Cautious welcome for Lord Heseltine proposals

Local MEP Jonathan Arnott has given a cautious welcome to plans outlined by Lord Heseltine for Teesside after the peer issued an independent report in which he says the Tees Valley can become a “bustling powerhouse of economic activity”.

The report’s proposals include a new development corporation, more starter homes and plans to encourage tourism. It comes in the wake of the closure of Redcar’s SSI steelworks which led to the loss of 3,000 jobs.

Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP, has always been particularly fervent about the need for employment and development in the region, particularly following losses in the steel industry.

“I would love to believe that Lord Heseltine’s 90 page report will actually bring about the economic boost the area so desperately needs. Whilst the report isn’t perfect, he has managed to identify some positive steps forward which could help local people, particularly in Redcar.

“Whether or not our Conservative government is likely to act on this report is the big unanswered question. They have a lot of work to do to counter the local air of cynicism about the so-called Northern Powerhouse.

“It was a huge focus of the campaign to get them elected, but local people are more interested in actual tangible investment and jobs – until now the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ has been seen by many as little more than a spin doctor’s catchy phrase masking the reality of underinvestment and lack of interest in the North East,” said Mr Arnott.