VOTE TO END OUR IDENTITY CRISIS AND SAY—IT HAS TO BE TEESSIDE!
Our area can no longer afford the identity crisis which has bedevilled us for decades—now is the time for us to declare…we are Teesside.
That’s the message from a new organisation TeessideTogether launched today which aims to campaign for ‘Teesside’ to be recognised—and promoted—as the clear identity for the area.
Chairman of the new organisation is well-known local figure and broadcasting executive Dave Roberts, who is calling on local people to make clear their views by voting in favour of Teesside on the newly-launched website www.teessidetogether.com.
The group argues that, after almost 20 years, all efforts to persuade local people that they are from the ‘Tees Valley’ have failed and says that, at a time when there are tremendous opportunities with the drive towards regional devolution through the Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda, the area will be at a grave disadvantage unless it resolves its identity crisis.
Says Dave Roberts “The importance of resolving this issue once and for all came home to me when I was involved in the Middlesbrough Mayoral Election campaign earlier this year…time after time the question was asked why attempts were still continuing to brand us from the ‘Tees Valley’ when there was no evidence of it having real support from local people or recognition in the outside world.
“I believe that our local authorities and others are to be congratulated for their commitment to work together to benefit from the opportunities offered in the ‘devolution revolution.’ However, all those efforts will be greatly weakened unless we resolve the identity crisis. It is hard to believe that we will ever be able to become recognised as a top flight ‘city region’ alongside areas such as Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield—and yes, Newcastle!—under the ‘Tees Valley’ brand.
“Unless Teesside speaks—and acts—with one voice we face the very real prospect of being left behind, isolated and ‘squeezed’ by powerful interests to the north, south and west. Our voice must be widely recognised nationally and internationally and enjoy strong support within the area. That has to be Teesside.
“I do not believe we are alone in recognising that reality. Take for example the views of the Northern Powerhouse Minister and local MP James Wharton when he says ‘Teesside must be at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse’ or Redcar’s Labour MP Anna Turley when she says ‘We already have a northern powerhouse and it’s called Teesside.’
“We believe the voice of local people must be heard at this critical period which is why through TeessideTogether we are asking them to help end the identity crisis and make crystal clear that Teesside has to be the right way forward.”
TeessideTogether has also revealed ambitious plans for events to involve all parts of the area and showcase what Teesside has to offer. The plans include a ‘Fit and Able Weekend’ with events ranging from a ‘Six Teesside Bridges’ half marathon to the ‘Teesside Beach Party.’ Also in the pipeline the organisation is drawing up plans for a Teesside Food Festival and a ‘Teesside Celebrates Teesside’ showpiece event of the year, featuring our entertainers, musicians and personalities of past, present and future.
More information about TeessideTogether, together with the chance to vote whether you favour Teesside or Tees Valley as the area’s identity is available on the website www.teessidetogether.com.