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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:56 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Party Chair, Co-operative Party 2:56 pm, 26th June 2019

I thank my hon. Friend and neighbour for that important intervention. He is right; there has still not been a single new job created at the SSI site in my constituency, which lost 3,000 jobs overnight in 2015. We have a plan for 20,000 jobs, but we need every bit of support and encouragement we can get to achieve that. It is not going to happen without looking more widely afield. My concern is that it will be local people that end up paying the cost of cleaning up that site.

Our share of the pot reflects the huge regional inequalities across our country and would make a massive difference to growth in my region. Ministers have indicated that regions should not lose out from the decision to leave the EU but, if current policy is anything to go by, yet again the Tees valley will be deprived of vital support

Recently we saw the launch of the Power Up The North campaign, led by our regional media and supported by politicians, businesses and people across our communities. I congratulate them on this great campaign. It is extremely powerful and is pushing back against the old idea that success in London and the City will automatically lead to a wave of wealth, spreading out across the country, and lift up areas like Teesside on a rising tide. We know that is not the case.

We have just had the fifth anniversary of the northern powerhouse, which was launched to great fanfare. I hoped it might be a turning point in relations and inequality in this country, but five years on it is clear that the concept has been a damp squib, achieving more as a political campaign rather than delivering real power to our region.

On Teesside we have proved that when we are given power and control we can do great things, such as supporting our people to retrain after the SSI closure through our local taskforce, and developing a local industrial masterplan for the South Tees Development Corporation. We have big ambitions for carbon capture, hydrogen power, and other clean industries, but the reality is that too often we are reliant on going cap in hand to the Government for funding. Now we are at risk of being in an even worse situation. Without better investment in the EU, the northern powerhouse will only ever be a soundbite that failed to deliver.