1 Southwark Bridge London
September 3, 2015
FOR CONSIDERATION FOR PUBLICATION
Your articles on the progress of the Northern Powerhouse project (Financial Times, Sept 2) point to a continuing dilemma affecting our area which could have significant implications for the progress of our ambition to benefit from the Government’s devolution agenda.
We have suffered for almost 20 years from a serious identity crisis caused by the decision of our local authorities to impose on the area a ‘Tees Valley’ brand which is a totally artificial construct with no basis in geography, history or public sentiment.
Although the authorities have not asked for the public’s views, whenever they have been given the opportunity to express an opinion they have overwhelmingly rejected Tees Valley in favour of the identity which they and the outside world recognise—Teesside. In the latest surveys conducted by our own organisation TeessideTogether and a local newspaper this verdict has again been endorsed, 92% and 81% respectively.
There is an irony in that your articles refer to the devolution bid being submitted by the ‘Tees Valley Combined Authority’ and yet you refer to Ministers Greg Clark and James Wharton being ‘Teessiders’ and James Wharton describes himself as a ‘Teesside MP.’
It is time our local establishment started listening to Mr Wharton and the local community if we are succeed in becoming a successful part of the Northern Powerhouse.