LAST week the Prime Minister came to Tees Valley to officially launch the new South Tees Development Corporation.

This was an important moment in our local story.

The Conservative Government and the Tees Valley local authorities’ devolution deal was made complete by the fulfilment of the promise to give out areas the only mayoral development corporation outside London.

Loading article content

When Mrs May met the new board of the development corporation she heard a united voice of business leadership. All the new board members are determined to use the historic opportunity to deliver new investment, wealth creation and employment in the new economic zone created by the development corporation.

Very soon, the early thinking of the board will be made public in our first consultation.

The site is enormous, many times larger than the City of London. It has some of the UK’s most impressive industrial potential in Europe.

Serious, long-term businesses that undertake industrial processes from powergeneration, to mineral refinement to manufacturing of consumer products, could be accommodated on the site once the work to assemble land and make it ready for investors is complete.

These businesses can’t locate just anywhere, relatively few places in England would welcome companies that might be considered too large or intrusive to their populations. But unlike the genteel towns of southern England, we in Teesside understand industry and welcome investors who can think big. The South Tees Development Corporation site will not be for housing, rather its hallmark will be a place to do business and employ people.

W E launched the new development corporation with an ambition to deliver 20,000 jobs over the coming years. We have the ambition and the confidence because we know that our local site is a national asset; there have been in excess of 60 serious enquiries from all parts of the world.

There is a great deal of work to be done, and co-operation with the Government is essential.

I will be chairing the development corporation, but the credit for any success will belong to the people of this area. Our local businesses back it; our local councils are part of it. The idea of inviting Mrs May was first mooted by the shadow board, then chaired by my Labour opponent for the job of mayor. Labour wanted Mrs May to come and she did; meeting its local leaders in our board meeting. Now I hope the partisanship that was a feature of the last few weeks can abate.

I won an election and adopted the combined authority’s economic plans, adding some of my own. My ideas were tested and endorsed at an election.

When I talk about ‘my plans’ it is because I lead the authority by the will of the people.

Labour didn’t expect me to win.

Now that the office of mayor is in place we have a new system of delivery and I am confident the policies and ideas that are so important for the future will begin to deliver success