AS a passionate believer in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and the amazing people that call our region home, I want to see every corner and everyone who lives here unleash their full potential. Since day one of being your mayor, this has been my overriding priority.

My approach to being mayor is ‘go big or go home’. There’s no point, and more importantly no time, to just tinker around the edges and expect real change. Some may be happy taking this approach, but I decided to move us forward in leaps and bounds, not inch by inch.

That’s why I have turbocharged the redevelopment of the Teesworks site. Already the site is a hive of activity with land remediation and site preparation work going on for the likes of GE Renewable Energy, work that has created 691 skilled well-paid jobs since July last year.

The progress we’ve made is a great start, but for me this is not enough. I want to go faster. That’s why I’m speeding up the demolition of all major steelmaking facilities. This work will start within a couple of weeks and within a year everything will be down, including the Redcar Blast Furnace. This will create over 1,000 skilled jobs for local workers over the next 12-months, and will mean we can get international firms on site quicker, providing quality jobs sooner.

I know this will be a bitter sweet moment for many, but we must look to the future and ensure the site provides good-quality, well paid jobs for generations to come.

A huge part of attracting investment to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is Teesside Airport.

Every successful region has a successful airport. It’s ridiculous to think that leaders of international firms looking to invest and create jobs here would be happy flying into Newcastle, Leeds or Manchester.

Likewise, our business owners need to be able to quickly and easily get to where they need around the world so they can secure the deals that will create jobs back home.

This is why the new Loganair and BA partnership is so important. It will mean Teesside firms looking to do business around the world can fly from Teesside to 134 global destinations hassle-free on just one ticket. And global business leaders and investors who will create the jobs on sites like Teesworks can fly here quickly and easily.

As restrictions on flying have gradually been eased, keeping passengers at Teesside Airport safe, along with local people across the area has been a top priority.

When I heard that local firm Kromek was developing a new piece of technology that could sniff out trace levels of Covid-19 within 30 minutes, I knew our airport would be an excellent place to test it. Taking part in this nationally significant trial makes our airport one of the first in the UK to install the new device. Once again where Teesside leads, the rest of the UK follows.

But there’s no point creating jobs if local people struggle to get to them. That’s why I’m such a huge supporter of Wheels 2 Work. The scheme provides electric motorbikes to people who do not have easy access to public transport or a private vehicle so they can get to their job or education. So the scheme can expand its fleet of bikes, I provided £645,000 in cash, meaning it can help 400 people across the region access a job.

Like never before our region has a bright future ahead. To capture it we must move fast and go big or go home.