Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Fly that past us again
THE government will invite Durham Tees Valley Airport to fine tune its bid for millions of pounds of tax payers cash that was rejected last week, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Following an emergency meeting with North-East MPs on Monday night, Business Secretary Vince Cable will ask Local Enterprise Partnership Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) to help the airports owners Peel Holdings draw up a stronger business case for funding.
However, any future bid is expected to hinge on George Osborne allocating money for a fourth round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
The Chancellor is due to make an announcement in Decembers interim Budget statement on whether the RGF, which aims to create jobs in hard hit areas, will start again next spring.
North-East MPs were furious after The Northern Echo revealed last Thursday that the government had rejected the airports request for 5.9m to revive the loss-making site with a massive freight operation that could create up to 1,500 jobs.
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham demanded that Mr Cable explain why the government had turned its back on one of the regions key transport hubs after the Prime Minister had earlier said Durham Tees Valley was a vital airport that needed support and investment.
Airport bosses have confirmed that the failure to secure RGF would not deter them from pressing ahead with their ambitious plans.
After this weeks meeting Mr Cable will contact Peel Holdings to explain why the bid failed. His department last night declined to give details, but a spokesman said: "The third round for the Regional Growth Fund was extremely competitive. Only the strongest bids could be supported - those that could deliver new, sustainable jobs and create growth for the long term."
Mr Cunningham said: "Mr Cable was keen that we make it very clear to the Department for Business what the prospects are for the airport going forward and to flag up any specific difficulties that the airport will face.
"He is inviting TVU to write to him about the strategic role of the airport and how the proposed freight development fits in with the regeneration the area whole, and how it will help to sustain regional airport provision for the Tees Valley."
After hearing from Mr Cable why the airport bid had not been among the 29 North-East projects approved for funding, Mr Cunningham said: "I understood where he was coming from. The bid has been subject to quite a rigorous process, including statisticians examining what the outputs of making the investment would have been. I can understand why they came to the conclusion that they did.
"I think the important thing now is that if the case was too weak to be approved we need to focus on what can be done to strengthen it in order to see what other ways the government could help.
"I was encouraged that Mr Cable has a better understanding of the importance of the airport on the wider Tees Valley. He was also pleased to hear that the local authorities, TVU and the local media were campaigning to ensure the airport is a success."