Teesworks: Rishi Sunak Announces Website Investigation
In response to a question from Washington and Sunderland West Labor MP Sharon Hodgson at PMQs, Rishi Sunak said Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove has announced an investigation into the site after weeks of allegations and controversy.
The content and details of the investigation are not known at this time, but more information is expected to be released shortly.
Ms Hodgson said: “Does the Prime Minister agree with his friend the Mayor of Tees Valley that the National Audit Office must investigate the Teesworks affair?
Read more: Police confirm there are no investigations into Teesworks as questions continue to be asked
“And will he share details of all the conversations he’s had on the subject with his former chief secretary, the member for Middlesbrough South (Simon Clarke) and the current Minister for Rise (Dehenna Davison), as they all receive donations from Ian have?” Waller, one of the project supporters?”
Mr Sunak replied: “The Leveling Up Secretary has already announced an inquiry into this matter but what I would say it’s just the same old Labor Party.”
“All we get after years of neglect is the Conservatives delivering for Teesside.”
In recent weeks, pressure has increased on the Government to launch an investigation into the site after Labour’s Shadow Leveling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy called for a review and Tees Valley Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen repeated her request later that same day.
Middlesbrough Labor MP Andy McDonald had used parliamentary privilege to accuse “corruption on an industrial scale” in Freeport. In response, a Teesworks spokesman urged him to report it to police if he believed any crime had occurred.
But earlier this month, the Cleveland Police Department confirmed that there had been no investigations into Teesworks.
Leveling Up Minister and Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison said the Government had seen “no evidence of corruption, wrongdoing or illegality”.
Concerns about Teesworks were raised after a share transfer resulted in companies owned by Mr Corney and Mr Musgrave – JC Musgrave Capital, Northern Land Management Ltd and DCS Industrial Limited – increasing their stake in Teesworks Ltd from 50% to 90%, it said that STDC owned only 10% and not as before at 50%.
At the time, Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said there was “shady business” in the area, but Mr Houchen said the deal had relieved the taxpayer of liability for the site and allowed the freeport to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in private secure cash.
An estimate seen by The Northern Echo puts the cost of rehabilitating the site, excluding the 90 hectare SeAH site, at £482.6m and the whole site has been given a face value of £1.
Read more: Baroness Chapman calls for House of Lords review of Teesworks deals
The original goal was to create 20,000 jobs at Teesworks over a period of 25 years. Public funds were used to rehabilitate some parts of the site and the investors’ money was then reinvested in the remediation of the next plot.
However, Mr Houchen has previously said that redevelopment work would need to be accelerated so investors could benefit from time-limited free port tax breaks, which will be reviewed in 2026. This is the argument for moving to a 90/10 stock split private investment could be brought in faster.
Currently, Teesworks Ltd is eligible to purchase land on the site at £1 per acre. STDC borrows money to rehabilitate land and Teesworks Ltd then pays it back with interest. Unless it repays the STDC, it cannot acquire the land.
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Teesworks Ltd is also entitled to half of the scrap revenue from the site. According to the latest figures, the amount of scrap totaled 93 million pounds.
Mr Corney and Mr Musgrave did not participate at all in a public tender process to acquire a stake in Teesworks (or when the stake was increased to 90%), but Mr Houchen said the deal would not have happened without the developers.
Conservative MP Simon Clarke of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland previously said Mr McDonald made a “shameful attempt” to “slander” the free port scheme. Mr McDonald said the Tories were “utterly ridiculous” to blame Labor and had to accept that there were “very serious and legitimate concerns”.
https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/23544275.teesworks-rishi-sunak-announces-investigation-site/?ref=rss Teesworks: Rishi Sunak Announces Website Investigation