A BOLD bid to give the Tees Valley greater control over its own economic affairs is being sent to the Government.
Local government chiefs hope that securing a so-called City Deal could help to create thousands of jobs, apprenticeships and attract investment to the region.
The board of Local Enterprise Partnership Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) met yesterday to agree its submission to Whitehall for devolved powers and funding.
The Government has hinted that only about half of the 20 bids being made in this the second round of the scheme will get the go ahead. Tees Valley is competing with the likes of Milton Keynes, Ipswich, Reading and Bournemouth. Last July, Newcastle was among those handed a City Deal in the first wave of the scheme.
TVU's document suggests targets, such as doubling the number of apprenticeships to 9,500 a year and creating and safeguarding up to 17,500 jobs by 2022. These aims will subject to detailed negotiations with the Government if the bid is shortlisted.
Stephen Catchpole, TVU managing director, said: "There are numerous untapped opportunities within this area that a City Deal would allow us to harness and develop for the economic good of Tees Valley.
"It would give us greater control locally to exploit our strengths and tackle our barriers to growth and most importantly put into action the Tees Valley strategic plans that match the bold ambitions of this area."
The proposals have the backing of the region's councils as well as the University of Teesside and local companies such as petrochemicals firm Sabic and Teesport operator PD Ports. It has been endorsed by The North East Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Business, EEF - the manufacturers' organisation and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.
Sarah Green, director of employers' organisation CBI North East, said it was "an ambitious but deliverable proposal."
She added: “Tees Valley contains a number of high-growth industries with strong potential to increase employment in skilled, sustainable private sector jobs. As the City Deal proposal outlines, building on the existing strengths of the chemical, advanced manufacturing and low-carbon sectors, particularly with regard to improving export performance, is vital to the region and to the North East as a whole.
“By devolving more decision making and spending powers to the local level, CBI North East believes this City Deal will ensure that resources aimed at stimulating growth and creating jobs are deployed in the most effective and efficient manner possible.”
Critics of the scheme say it will help to create the types of unelected quangos which the Coalition claimed it wanted to abolish.
The deadline for bids is January 15 before a shortlist is announced this spring and final proposals agreed by November.