Politicians from both sides of the political divide have joined forces to urge chancellor Philip Hammond to allow parts of Teesside to be converted in free ports.
Conservative party Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said Brexit will “provide the UK with economic freedoms, and the opportunity may exist for us to create free ports”.
The letter was backed by 50 business leaders, who support the idea of having a tariff-free zone.
Local MP Anna Turley also gave the idea her blessing.
“As a Labour MP I am not usually someone who supports reducing taxes,” she told City A.M..
But she said the area, still reeling from the failure of the SSI steel plant, needs “a helping hand”. Almost 2,000 jobs were lost when the Redcar plant was mothballed in 2015
Earlier this month, Turley told MPs 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,” she said.
In his letter dated 13 December 2017, Houchen wrote:
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.
Source: http://www.cityam.com, 21 January 2018