Labour have today challenged the Tories over the future of a £60m funding package for Teesside over fears it could be axed under a Conservative government.

The Labour Government announced the Tees Valley Industrial Programme to support local business and create or safeguard jobs in December 2009 following the announcement of the mothballing of the Corus Teesside Cast Products plant.

The investment fund is aimed at helping the Tees Valley transition to low carbon and advanced manufacturing.

Since the announcement, £20m of investment has already been made by the fund resulting in the creation of over 1200 jobs, the safeguarding of a further 1100 jobs and the creation of almost 700 businesses.

Now, following David Cameron’s admission that the North East would be a target for his cuts in pubic spending, concerns have been raised about the future of remaining £40m in funds contained in the package.

The Tories have already committed themselves to the abolition of One North East, which administers the fund, and have criticised the Strategic Investment Fund which is providing part of the funding.

Labour’s candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland and “Save our Steel” campaigner, Tom Blenkinsop has today written to his Conservative opponent challenging him to come clean about the future of the fund.

Tom Blenkinsop says;

“David Cameron has let slip that this region will bear the brunt of his public spending cuts. They have already said that they will dismantle One North East. Now I am increasingly worried that we won’t see the remaining £40m from the Tees Valley Industrial Programme if the Tories get in.

I’m calling on local Tories to come clean about this. Their Leader has indicated that he sees support for the regions as unsustainable, so I really fear that Teesside won’t get the investment we need if the Tories win on May 6th.

The Conservatives really are choice that Teesside can’t afford.”


Notes to editors:

Please find below the text of Tom’s letter to Paul Bristow, Conservative Candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland:

Dear Mr Bristow

During David Cameron’s interview with Jeremy Paxman on Friday evening he let slip that the Tories wanted to see the government step back from supporting  the North East region where Mr. Cameron claims government support is ‘too big’.

However, true to form Mr. Cameron refused to say where the Tory axe would fall.

The public sector here on Teesside provides vital services to local residents – particularly to the most vulnerable in our communities – and employment to over 266,000 people in this region.  People will be very concerned about the threat posed by the Conservative Party.

Despite the tough times the Conservatives plan for public services and employment here in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland your party continues to believe that providing tax cuts for millionaires is a priority.

At this election Labour has made a clear pledge to protect frontline investment in childcare, policing, our schools and our NHS.

This latest admission by Mr. Cameron comes on top of your plans to scrap One North East, our Regional Development Agency, which has helped bring investment to our area and improve the local economy.

Given Mr Cameron’s confirmation that your party will withdraw support for this region can you clarify your parties’ position on the £60m Tees Valley Industrial Programme. As you will be aware £20m has already been spent to protect Teesside jobs and businesses. Will you confirm that the remaining £40m from One North East will be axed by the Conservatives under your plans to cut support to the region this year?

This election gives people here in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland a chance to have their say on the future of our vital public services.

I offer you the opportunity to distance yourself from David Cameron’s plans to leave areas like ours without the support they need to succeed or, if you do not wish to disassociate yourself, you should spell out exactly which services and funding for Teesside you and your party would cut.

Yours sincerely,



Labour’s Candidate for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland