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Andy Preston at the Centre Square development in Middlesbrough, which he says could end up costing Middlesbrough Council dearly I Can Deliver On Misguided Investment Prospectus Promises
April 10, 2019

Middlesbrough Council have been talking about Centre Square for several years now.

So far they’ve managed to attract only one tenant to the multi-million pound development – and unbelievably that’s themselves.

Other than a series of meaningless press releases, there is no evidence yet that they have anyone else lined up for Centre Square.

Because I’m letting space to international and local companies in Stockton, I also want it to happen in Middlesbrough, bringing jobs and prosperity to the centre of town.

Middlesbrough can 100% become the region’s hub for offices and commerce. But I’m afraid that the politicians driving the council’s speculative office scheme don’t have the skills or the experience to make that happen.

But with the right ideas and marketing Middlesbrough can definitely become THE place to base businesses and jobs.

I’m a positive person and I love to see new developments happening in my hometown.

But I have serious doubts that the people in charge of marketing Centre Square are capable of realising the town’s true potential.”

Middlesbrough Council’s Investment Prospectus, originally revealed in November 2016, said the local authority would invest £74m into a series of exciting developments over four years.

The press release detailed investment plans which would create 5,000 new jobs and attract £600m of private sector investment by 2020 (next year).

The series of developments included a £30m snow centre at Middlehaven, a 450-bed student village linked to Teesside University, a brand new Media and Innovation Village, Grade A town centre office space and 5,500 new homes.

I wonder how much of that £600m has been invested from the private sector so far.

But when you have a deputy mayor describing council finances as a “moveable feast”, what chance do we have?

We have one year to go before they’re able to deliver on the Investment Prospectus. So far the only element they have managed to deliver has been Centre Square – and even then, they haven’t yet been able to attract one private sector company to invest in it.

The snow centre has already been delayed to 2021 and there’s no sign of the student village and so-called innovation village.

I’ve been accused of talking my hometown down, but nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve invested in and transformed derelict buildings in Middlesbrough, I’ve invested in businesses here, I’m employing people in the town and running two charities here.

Nobody talks up Middlesbrough more than I do – but that’s exactly why I get so frustrated when we’re not fulfilling our potential.

The Investment Prospectus was ambitious and, I think, well-intended – but the people in charge just aren’t capable of delivering it, and we’re seeing that play out before our eyes.

 

 



Photograph of Andy Preston
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"I believe in Middlesbrough. Together we can make amazing things happen."
- Andy Preston charity leader, businessman, Middlesbrough mayoral candidate
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Published by Andy Preston, Boho 4 Gibson House, Cleveland Street, Middlesbrough, TS2 1AE