South Tees Development Corporation | Published on: 16th May 2023
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (16 May) written to the National Audit Office to ask for a full investigation into the South Tees Development Corporation and Teesworks.
In the past months, false and unfounded allegations of misconduct and impropriety have been made against STDC and its joint venture partner Teesworks Ltd. These have prompted the move by the Mayor, in his capacity as Chairman of the STDC board and on the behalf of the board members.
The site has recently seen a major turnaround, from being a massive drain on public resources and having liabilities of £482million, to already attracting £2billion of private investment and more than 2,725 jobs.
These successes risk being seriously overshadowed by the allegations, which are having a significant and worrying impact on investor confidence. This directly impacts jobs and investment in an area relying on this flagship project to bring sustainable long-term development.
Lisa Nandy MP, the Shadow Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has now called for a comprehensive, independent investigation into Teesworks. Previously the National Audit Office advised such a review was not under its remit but in his letter, the Mayor underlines that an exception should be made due to these cross-party calls and makes clear his full support for an investigation.
Mayor Houchen said: “For too long people have been making allegations against STDC and its Joint Venture partners.
“This site was valued independently for minus £482million, the former MP for Redcar and Trade Unions at the time said the clear up would cost the taxpayer £1billion. Fast forward a few years and we’re seeing construction of a new quay, the world’s largest monopile facility and thousands of jobs being created. It’s a stark contrast to where we were even a few years ago.
“Ever since the claims were made in Parliament, we’ve been constantly reassuring our investors, as well as those bringing the claims and the local people of Teesside that we are doing everything that is appropriate and expected of a public body.
“I want this nipped in the bud once and for all.
“Without a swift, decisive conclusion to this situation, Teesside will miss out on thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of foreign direct investment. These are the jobs of the future, sustaining future generations, which are sorely needed by people of an area desperately in need of investment after decades of neglect by Governments of both colours.
“Teesworks is a project of national importance and it’s right that it gets national scrutiny but there is a difference between sensible debate and spurious allegations. I welcome the request by Lisa Nandy MP for the National Audit Office to carry out a review. The STDC, Teesworks and TVCA have nothing to hide.”
Chris Musgrave, Teesworks Partner, said: “We welcome the Mayor’s support for a full investigation into Teesworks.
“We are delivering something special that will deliver jobs and international investment to an area that so desperately needs it following the closure of the steelworks in 2015.
“I have repeatedly said that we have absolutely nothing to hide and look forward to this investigation clearing this up once and for all so that we can deliver what we promised to do.”
Jacob Young MP for Redcar and STDC Board Member, said: “It’s time we bring clarity to this situation for everyone in Teesside. I fully support the request for an independent investigation into what is happening at Teesworks, so that both the public and businesses can have confidence that we are doing the right thing for them.
“There is too much at stake in Teesside, with thousands of jobs on the line, if we allow for these false allegations, rumours and inuendo to go unanswered.”
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