‘FEEDBACK’ Gazette – 1 September 2015
Letter by Steve Walmsley, Thornaby.
SOME time ago, I wrote to the Gazette suggesting that the area in which we live was just a backwater languishing between Leeds and Newcastle. This is largely the result of political myopia, sub-regional fragmentation and rebranding of the Teesside conurbation and Teesside International Airport by faceless, unaccountable people. So it comes as no surprise that polls overwhelmingly reject both Tees Valley and Durham Tees Valley Airport. Local people identify with Teesside in the same way as Tynesiders, Merseysiders, etc.
And so, whilst I applaud the launch of TeessideTogether, I do hope it is more ambitious than just settling for something along the lines of the recently introduced nominal combined Teesside Authority, which had barely any public support whatsoever. In fact, participation in referenda in Thornaby and Yarm – both of which registered dissatisfaction with the present set-up – was hugely more impressive than consultation carried out to drive through what is simply a variation of Tees Valley Unlimited. What is really needed in this area is overdue unification in the form of Teesside City, with one council serving an area of the scale of the short-lived Teesside – though with traditional boundaries intact. That is the only way we will be able to compete with other cities and enable this are to punch above its true weight.
Failing that, the UK City of Culture bid is doomed to be laughed at if all we have to offer is significantly lesser than Gateshead – a council area roughly the size of Stockton.
Response from Dave Roberts, Chairman, TeessideTogether.
A very interesting letter Steve. With the local authorities now having to make substantial cuts year-on-year perhaps ‘unification’ is not too far away in order for local government to survive. To answer your indirect question, yes, TeessideTogether does have ambitious plans but perhaps these are for another day – for the moment let’s focus on getting Teesside back on the map, making it great again as well as my personal goal to see ‘Teesside Airport’ proudly displayed on all our roadsigns and it being highly successful. DR.