It is often said, especially by those who live here (and it would appear with some justification) that closure of the coal mining pits caused severe hardship as a result of greatly increased unemployment and bitter divisions within communities, even within families. This was especially the case in Seaham and the immediate surrounding area.
Seaham had three collieries: Vane Tempest, Dawdon and ‘The Knack’; while just a few miles away there were other collieries located at Easington, Murton and Horden. After nearly three decades Seaham has recovered, Murton is still recovering, Horden has become a suburb of Peterlee, while Easington still exhibits a ‘dead/run-down’ appearance.
The foregoing is mentioned as an introduction to two articles by Richard North, here and here, dealing with what might be the effects of a ‘Theresa May Brexit’ on the air and shipping industries.
Bearing in mind those reports, in the North East there are ports at Tyneside, Teesport, Hartlepool, Billingham and Seaham. Where airports are concerned there is Newcastle International and Durham Tees Valley.
If we look at shipping first, Tyneside has [from the annual accounts (downloads as pdf)] full-time jobs supported directly or indirectly by the Port of circa 14,500. The Port’s International Passenger Terminal continued to contribute over £50 million to
the GVA [Gross value added (GVA) is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy], supporting the travel and tourism sector in particular. The gross tonnage of ships entering the River Tyne was 25.7 million tonnes in 2015, with the number of vessel movements amounting to 2,816. The number of cars handled across the Port’s three car terminals, that provide storage for Nissan, VW / Audi, was 581k units. The volume of Nissan exports remained strong and as a result the business retained its position as the UK’s No.2 car exporting port.
Teesport handles circa 5,000 vessels each year and around 40 million tonnes of cargo. In addition steel, petrochemical, agribulks, manufacturing, engineering and high street commerce operations are all supported through Teesport.
Hartlepool is just three miles away from Teesport, and is at the heart of Hartlepool’s local economy, with bulk cargo facilities alongside the oil & gas sectors and the renewable offshore wind energy market.
Billingham is a strategic location to support the significant number of processing plants located within the town’s immediate hinterland and has one of the largest warehousing and cross-docking complexes within the Tees Valley.
Seaham can handle ships of up to 8,000 tonnes, with a maximum beam of 18m, length up to 120m and draft up to 6.7m and in 2016 it had 215 ship entries to the harbour. The harbour handles imports of forest products and steel while exports comprise limestone and woodchip. Both imports and exports involve vessel movements to and from Spain, Norway and Germany. Seaham harbour has a workforce of circa 90/100 employees.
It was of interest to see yesterday that following the Prime Minister’s speech on the Government’s objectives for Brexit negotiations, the British Ports Association (BPA) is holding discussions with the government to understand the details of its post-Brexit vision and how customs and other procedures at ports might be affected. With the Prime Minister indicating that the UK will be leaving the Single Market, the BPA will be seeking to ensure that the logistical flows of goods and passengers at ports will not be disrupted.
As stated above the North East has two airports, Newcastle International and Durham Tees Valley; although the latter only has a few daily flights, one of which is KLM. On the other hand Newcastle has flights worldwide including to the European Union. Airlines involved are British Airways (via Heathrow), Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Emirates, Air France, Easyjet and KLM.
You, the people, are able to address every Member of Parliament and inform them that having been ‘sold down the river’ in 1972 and 1975 (not forgetting the following 40+ years of EU membership) that this is the end of our acquiescence to ‘pilates’ who have no real sense of direction because they know nothing and thus would lead us up a cul-de-sac, whilst appearing to have washed their hands of those whose opinions they are supposed to reflect, purely for reasons of political ideology.
Are those of the North East – and in particular those of this area, once again to suffer severe hardship as a result of greatly increased unemployment and bitter divisions within communities, even within families without their voices being heard? The question is asked because as sure as hell if Theresa May progresses down the path she appears to have chosen, the North East will once again be blighted’; as will the remainder of the United Kingdom.