Northern Echo, 17 April 2015
TEESSIDE is essential to the ‘Northern powerhouse’ to improve the region’s prosperity, the Transport minister said on a visit to Middlesbrough.
Patrick McLoughlin pledged that its 30-year-old pacer trains will be scrapped but could only hope that Durham Tees Valley Airport has a sustainable future. He was in the town to support Conservative candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Will Goodhand, and see his proposals for new sliproads off the A174 at Ormesby to ease traffic congestion and speed up what is locally known as the ‘Marton crawl’.
“The pacers must go. Three companies are tendering for the deal, they have to come forward with proposals about how they will bring in new rolling stock, which will be announced later this year,” he explained. He also said that, despite the Tees Valley not having a seat on the board of Transport for the North, part of George Osborne’s strategy to create a ‘Northern powerhouse’, Teesside was a vital component. “Teesside is very much a part of the Northern powerhouse. It’s essential as it’s about rebuilding the economy,” he said.
And he urged local people to support downgraded Durham Tees Valley airport to help ensure its survival. “I hope it has a future. We are the first government to give it a real future. It’s the chicken and egg scenario – it’s up to local people to support it, we cannot dictate aircraft operators come into the area.” His visit coincided with Middlesbrough Football Club’s announcement that it has struck a two-year partnership deal with its ‘official airport’ Leeds Bradford which, unlike Durham Tees Valley, offers flights to 70 direct destinations worldwide.
From the Riverside Stadium it is 62 miles and takes 90 minutes to reach compared with just 13 miles to Durham Tees Valley Airport near Darlington in less than half an hour. Mark Ellis, Chief Operating Officer at Middlesbrough Football Club, said: “We’re delighted to announce this new partnership with Leeds Bradford Airport. We are committed to a successful long term partnership that will provide tangible benefits to Middlesbrough fans as well as achieving growth in passenger numbers through increased usage of the airport by the residents of the Teesside region.”