Sunday, 9 December 2018

The latest on Durham Tees Valley Airport from Council leader Sue Jeffrey, as she responds to petition: "Tees Valley Mayor blocked investment plans"

Many thanks for taking the time to contact me about the future of our airport.

 Like you, I want three things:
1. To keep our airport open
2. To reverse its decline; and
3. To bring back holiday flights.

Plans to do all three have been ready for over two years. They were developed by the Tees Valley Combined Authority in partnership with the current operator and were to be funded by a mix of cash from tax payers and from the operator themselves. Sadly, those plans have been blocked by the Tees Valley Mayor who instead has announced that £40 million of your devolution money will be spent to ‘save the airport’.

You may remember that 2016/7 the five Council Leaders, working closely with business leaders in the Local Enterprise Partnership, agreed a £15 million a year devolution deal with government to deliver jobs and growth right across the Tees Valley . This is where the £40 million will come from. From the little I know it appears that the cash will be used to buy 800+ acres of land in Stockton/Darlington, including the airport.

What has not been explained is how much more will be needed to fund new flights and to improve airport facilities. These are likely to cost many millions of pounds. And then there will be the day-to-day operating costs. We know that the airport currently loses £2 million a year. As Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council I am responsible for running a multi-million pound organisation providing services to 136,000 people including you and your family. Before we use £40 million of your devolution cash to buy 800+acres of land in Stockton/Darlington and a loss making airport I will need to know much, much more about the proposal.

What I do know for sure is that if this plan goes ahead then there will be a lot less money to spend on other projects, possibly for many years to come. Money that could be used to: · create new jobs, including buying the land at the SSI site which is a priority - we don’t want to lose out again like we just have with car maker Ineos · invest in local transport services, including better roads, buses and trains · help our businesses and communities succeed; and · Indirectly, support all the services our council provides including for our children and older people. So this will be a difficult decision. I am committed to doing absolutely everything in my power to stop our airport closing and to support it to grow and thrive. I will also do all I can to make sure that your hard won devolution cash is not wasted, and that plans agreed now do not mean you have to pay more Council Tax in the future.

Times remain hard for many and every penny we have needs to be spent to bring real local benefits for you, your family and the people of Redcar and Cleveland. I have copied the Tees Valley Mayor into this email in case you want to get in touch directly about the points I have raised. If you would like to talk to me about the plans for the airport or anything else at any time please contact me.

 With best wishes to you and your family for a very Happy Xmas and New Year.

 Kind regards Sue

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