THE last few weeks have been pretty monumental for the Tees Valley. We saved our airport, but I wouldn’t want it to overshadow some other good news.

The plan to save Teesside airport was part of a wider £588m investment plan. This included funds to buy the last of the land at the former Redcar steelworks site, which will help to make the South Tees Development Corporation the success that we know it can be.

On its own £588m is a huge number, but that’s not the whole picture.

Over the coming months and years, we will secure even more money from Government to invest in priorities that we determine locally. While other regions without mayors have decisions taken for them by Whitehall civil servants, through devolution, the people of the Tees Valley are in the driving seat.

The hard work to devolve this budget to the Tees Valley started a long time before I was elected, and while I have led this part of our journey, I have acknowledge the massive contributions of local council chiefs, Government ministers, and my officials who made it all possible.

Ten years ago the idea that the Tees Valley would have the powers to make its own decisions, and with that a renewed sense of local pride and dignity, was pretty much unthinkable.

But now we are no longer the poor relation, beholden to Westminster or Newcastle for the investment we need.

We have achieved this by working with the Government, which, over the last few years, has been forward-thinking enough to understand the benefits of local decision-making and accountability. Generation upon generation of North-East politicians have made a lot of noise about what we need, with questionable results, when the answer all along was working together as five boroughs.

Since being elected mayor, I have met more Government ministers and senior civil servants than I’d care to count. My strategy when engaging with them has always been twofold: relentless positivity about the future of the Tees Valley and its people, and a focus on the possible.

As the Government’s spending review approaches, where decisions are made on how taxpayers’ money will be best spent over the next five years, I have made it my business to show ministers that every penny spent in our region is value for money.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be submitting a huge bid to the Government for even more money to bring more jobs and investment to the South Tees Development Corporation site. We’ve already secured £137million since I was elected, but we need one final cash payment to deliver on our ambitions to create 20,000 jobs over the next two decades.

My team is working together with local MPs Anna Turley and Simon Clarke to ensure Government delivers what it has promised.

Some people might tell you that we’re a small region and that we will be crowded out by the likes of Leeds and Manchester, but if the last two years in the Tees Valley show us anything it is that there are no small regions, just small ambitions, and when we think big it sometimes pays off.

Ben Houchen is the Conservative directly-elected mayor of the Tees Valley