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Business & Economy

Mayor welcomes Barclays bosses for Teesside freeport tour

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has hosted Barclays Bank’s group chief executive and its head of manufacturing, transport and logistics on a tour of Teesside’s freeport.

He welcomed C.S. Venkatakrishnan (known as Venkat) and Lee Collinson, who is leading Barclays’ work to showcase freeport benefits to clients, on a tour of Teesworks, which sits at the heart of the freeport.

The Mayor highlighted a number of investments at the freeport, including that of SeAH Wind, which recently confirmed plans for a £300million offshore wind monopile production plant.

Barclays has a long history of supporting innovation in the region, with one of its principal establishing partners, Darlington-based James Backhouse, involved in the financing of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825.

The firm is also supporting a film production to celebrate the railway’s bicentenary in 2025.

It is now looking to the future by backing the Government’s freeport initiative by originating anticipated future funding opportunities and hosting a range of client events throughout the year to highlight the advantages of freeports, such as their wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and streamlined planning processes.

Mayor Houchen said: “It was an honour to welcome Venkat and Lee to Teesworks to show them first-hand how we’re leading the UK with our freeport, demonstrating how it is playing a key role in our net-zero ambitions and in welcoming industries of the future to Teesside.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to learn about all that Barclays is doing to raise awareness of freeports and their benefits with its clients, and I’m certain we will continue to work together to maximise the potential of the Teesside freeport.

“This is just the latest high-profile visit to the freeport and Teesworks after we greeted the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, MPs and other business leaders, such as BP’s global CEO Bernard Looney.

“There’s certainly more to come as we continue to grab opportunities with both hands to transform not just Teesworks, but all of our freeport sites, ultimately creating thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people.”

Venkat added: “As the first bank to engage with the Teesside freeport prior to their formal launch, it was really exciting to be on site to see the significant opportunities taking shape here in clean energy, advanced manufacturing and offshore wind, especially for early-stage and high growth businesses, creating thousands of jobs and investment in the region.

“Some of our clients are already engaged in the redevelopment of the site, and we are exploring the right opportunities for our clients, and to support this ambitious programme as it develops.”