Teeside can become an economic powerhouse following the collapse of the steel industry, former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has said today.
In a new report, "Tees Valley: Opportunity Unlimited" prepared for the government, Heseltine said parts of the region had descended into a "scene of desolation", and called for more investment into the area, a plan to encourage tourism and a big focus on developing the skills of local citizens.
"Four miles of the south bank of the Tees is a scene of desolation, a memory of industrial activity now gone," Heseltine said. But, he added, "the Tees Valley has an exciting future".
The Conservative grandee, who was dubbed the "minister for Merseyside" during his time in office during the 1980s, was asked to look at reviving the regional economy following the closure of the SSI Redcar steelworks and the loss of 3,000 jobs.
Heseltine, who is not a member of the government, has recommended a string of proposals based primarily on boosting co-operation between public and private sector organisations in the region.
The Tees Valley was offered a £15m devolution deal by the government last year as part of its northern powerhouse drive. Heseltine also called on the government to make sure the area was not overlooked as part of wider regeneration and infrastructure projects including HS2, rail electrification, road improvements and the construction of new starter homes.