Politicians from the two sides of the political divide have joined forces to ask chancellor Philip Hammond to enable some parts of Teesside to be converted into free ports.
Ben Houchen, the Conservative party Tees Valley mayor, said that Brexit will “provide the UK with economic freedoms, and the opportunity may exist for us to create free ports.”
Houchen wrote in his letter that was dated 13 December 2017: “We do not yet know the trading arrangements that will apply after Brexit, however, I am keen that we act now to understand the benefits that free port status might bring to the Tees Valley region. I have therefore proposed to the government that a study is commissioned using Tees Port and South Tees Development Corporation site as a case study.”
Fifty business leaders supported the letter. It is said that they support the idea of having a zone that is tariff-free.
Anna Turley, a local MP, also gave her blessing to the idea.
“As a Labour MP I am not usually someone who supports reducing taxes,” said Turley.
However, Turley said that the area which is still reeling from the failure of the SSI steel plant, requires “a helping hand.” Nearly 2,000 jobs were lost in 2-15 when the Redcar plant was mothballed.
Earlier in January, Turley informed MPs that a Teesside free port “would increase employment and economic activity in areas where economic need is high and could play a major role in rebalancing our London-centric economy.”
“Of the country’s 30 largest ports, 17, including Teesside in my own constituency, are in the bottom quartile of local authorities in the index of multiple deprivation,” said Turley.