NORTHERN ECHO, 27 August 2015
The team behind TeessideTogether believe the area is suffering an identity crisis and are determined to put Teesside back on the map as talk of devolution across the North-East steps up a gear.
Dave Roberts, who stood in this year’s mayoral election in Middlesbrough, is the chairman of the newly formed group and he is determined that the people of the area get an opportunity to have their say on whether it is called Teesside or Tees Valley.
The group believes that after almost 20 years all efforts to persuade local people that they are from the ‘Tees Valley’ have failed. And with the drive towards regional devolution through the Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda, they believe that the area will be at a grave disadvantage unless it resolves its identity crisis.
Mr Roberts said: “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.”
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 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 teessidetogether.com