Two inconclusive claims do not bode well for the Tees Valley

Researchers could not say what caused the sudden and unprecedented extinction of the East Coast sea creatures, although they could say it was not due to dredging for Teesworks Freeport. In the face of dying crustaceans, the report’s inconclusiveness left the public wondering what was going on.

It has also given the public the impression that something is not quite right with Teesworks – how come 90 per cent of the land is owned by private individuals with close ties to the Tory party? – and now that the chances of an independent inquiry seem to be dwindling, the public will wonder for the second time what really went on.

Mayor Ben Houchen, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, deserves his day in court to answer the allegations and the probity of the project, which big-name companies are expected to invest millions of pounds in, must be ensured.

An investigation could also shed light on transparency: who knew what, who checked what, who agreed to what. As the joint authority is a new structure, we need to understand whether appointed boards and councils are really the most responsible way to speed up the clean-up. The same sort of claims that things were being done on behalf of the public without the public knowing gave Margaret Thatcher’s Teesside Development Corporation a very bad name in the 1980s.

The largest industrial wasteland in Europe has an exciting future ahead of it, but does not want to be clouded by the failures of the past. Two inconclusive claims do not bode well for the Tees Valley

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