THE Government announced earlier this year plans to create a Northern Campus for civil servants from across HM Treasury, the Department for International Trade, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The move would bring up to 1,000 jobs to the region.
Since that announcement I have been leading the calls for such a campus to be located in Middlesbrough. Back in February, I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak making a strong case for Middlesbrough to be the preferred option.
Middlesbrough offers the ideal location for the Northern Campus. By bringing that number of jobs to Middlesbrough would mean that there would be a whole host of other jobs created by the workers providing services to the campus. It would be transformational and bring immense benefits to other businesses and organisations across the town and wider Tees Valley.
Recent suggestions about the preferred location being land at Teesside Airport are wholly unsuitable and go against a weight of evidence showing the economic benefits of locating businesses within a town or city centre. You don’t put such a development out on a limb away from other services and utilities. It’s wasteful and misses the golden opportunity to bring other benefits.
If this Government is committed to their ‘levelling up’ agenda they will commit to creating the Northern Campus in Middlesbrough.
Councillor Matthew Storey, Leader of Middlesbrough Labour Group, added: “In the heart of Middlesbrough Town Centre we have a ready made plan to deliver these jobs. The masterplan for Centre Square is not yet complete. By building the remaining office blocks in Centre Square the Council would provide the office space to accommodate these Whitehall departments and secure the huge knock-on benefits to other local businesses from situating high-paying civil service jobs in the economic centre of the Tees Valley.
“The Council will gain significant revenue from the rental income and the civil servants will spend their hard-earned cash in Middlesbrough’s retail and hospitality businesses. This kind of investment is a one-off opportunity which we can’t afford to see shunted out to an out-of-town industrial estate. This economic vitality will be critical as Tees Valley recovers post-Covid and Middlesbrough is the right destination for it.”
The Centre for Cities report ‘The Geography of the Tees Valley Economy’ highlights the benefits of a town centre location. The report talks about the ability to share inputs, supply chains and infrastructure, such as roads, rail and street lights and the ability for workers and organisations to exchange ideas and information.
The North East Chamber of Commerce also urges support for town centres in order to create vibrant, sustainable centres.