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Durham Tees Valley Airport launches fresh bid for growth fund cash
MINISTERS have been urged to back a bid for millions of pounds of taxpayers' cash to revive a loss-making North-East airport.
Durham Tees Valley Airport has lodged an application for £4.65m from the Government's regional growth fund (RGF) to help build a road linking the north side of the site with land south of the passenger terminal.
As attempts to bring new flights to DTV have stalled, airport bosses want to develop aviation-related businesses, such as freight, warehousing and aircraft recycling, to help stem losses at the site which almost closed last year amid falling passenger numbers.
Last October, airport bosses were dismayed when their bid for £5.9m from the RGF was rejected. They hope the new application, which includes ambitious plans to create jobs and attract investment, will be given the go ahead by the committee led by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson told The Northern Echo: "I hope the Government listens this time. The airport is a vital piece of Tees Valley infrastructure that is important for the whole of the North-East economy. It would be a huge mistake for the Government to ignore this bid."
In the three previous rounds of the RGF North-East firms, such as Nifco, Nissan and SSI, were pledged money from the fund which aims to create jobs in areas hit by Government spending cuts. However, airport bosses have admitted they face tough competition as the latest round of the scheme has a funding pot worth only about a third of the £1bn up for grabs in each of the earlier rounds.
Including the airport project Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) revealed it had supported bids asking for a total of £27m. It said they would help to bring an additional £200m of private sector investment and have the potential to create and safeguard more than 400 jobs.
Two programme applications have also been submitted. These would support innovation, skills and training and supply chain development across Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton, and provide access to finance for cash-strapped small firms.
Neil Kenley, the director of business investment at TVU, said: "The latest Tees Valley RGF bids look to build our private sector workforce. If local companies are given the financial resources to expand, they will retain and take on new staff. If we ensure there is a workforce with the appropriate skills and training, local growth will be maximised."
Bids to RGF Round 4 closed on March 20 and the winning bidders are expected to be announced early this summer.
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