TWO years ago this month, the hated “Durham Tees Valley” name of our airport was consigned to history as it returned to the historic and much loved name of “Teesside International Airport”.

Since that bright sunny day our airport – the people’s airport – has gone from strength-to-strength. Yes, the travel industry has faced unprecedented challenges over the past 17-months due to the coronavirus, but Teesside Airport is coming out of it stronger than ever.

Just last week the first flight to Corfu from Teesside took to the skies for the first time in 12 years thanks to Ryanair, giving local people quick, easy and hassle-free access to another summer holiday favourite. This follows hot on the heels of flights to Alicante, Faro and Majorca with Europe’s No 1 airline.

Ryanair originally came to us with two routes, but thanks to those who have backed the airport, we were able to secure two more, even in the face of a global pandemic.

To make the airport fit for the 21st Century we’ve redeveloped the terminal, opening up previously sealed off areas to make it lighter and brighter. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art scanners to improve security and we’ve opened brand new shops, restaurants, bars and cafes to make jetting off from Teesside the best experience possible.

While it’s great to see our airport taking off once again, the news that Cleveland Bridge has gone into administration, putting over 200 jobs at risk, is the kind of news we never want to hear.

Cleveland Bridge is a business with an amazing heritage that has been responsible for some of the world’s most iconic structures, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Shard skyscraper in London. The skills of its workers are second to none and have led to the company having an enviable global reputation.

I will speak to whoever I need to in order to secure the future of the business, preserve jobs and ensure this iconic company once again thrives. I have already had meetings with potential investors and government, urging them to do all they can to support the sale of the company while also ensuring the firm’s workers, their families and local communities get the help they need.

While the news about Cleveland Bridge is devastating, we are seeing good-quality well paid jobs coming to the air.

The relocation of civil service jobs out of Whitehall to Darlington is continuing with Treasury North and Trade North now heavily recruiting for local talent. Dozens of jobs are now available ranging from strategy and policy advisors in the Treasury to strategic analysts at the Department for International Trade, allowing local people to play a key role in developing policy while putting local priorities at heart of government.

The good jobs news continues as Wilton Universal Group will be expanding after buying the OSB building at Haverton Hill which sits alongside Wilton’s current Port Clarence base.

I’ve provided £1.4m for this expansion, which will create 200 new skilled jobs. This is a game-changing scale-up of an amazing Stockton-based company which has developed a reputation second to none when it comes to fabricating, prepping, and loading large complex structures.

Our region’s reputation as the go-to place when it comes to clean energy was further cemented with the news that Sembcorp Energy plans to build a 300 megawatts clean energy plant at Wilton International. All the carbon dioxide from the plant will be captured and transported under the North Sea, where it will be permanently stored.

The mammoth construction project will create more than 2,000 skilled, well paid jobs for local people. And when it is commissioned in 2025 there will be a further 200 operational jobs.

From carbon capture to developing the fuels of the future, Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are leading the way when it comes to net zero, and securing the clean well-paid jobs of the future in the process.