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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Thousands of pages of evidence handed over to Teesworks Investigation into STDC, mayor Ben Houchen reports

A report of the panel’s findings and any recommendations was previously said to be expected in the summer. The government said any interested party, including MPs, would be able to make representations.

Redcar Conservative MP Jacob Young and board member said at the meeting: “About the independent investigation, do we have idea when that’s going to report?” Mr Houchen replied: “No we don’t. Obviously it’s not for us to ask or influence or push.

“I think it’s fair to say that we’ve provided over 400 pieces of evidence and documents running into many thousands of pages, so there’s a huge amount of information to get through. Obviously we don’t want to rush anybody because we want it to be considered properly.

“We just continue to provide evidence and information wherever required. It’ll just run its course. Sooner rather than later hopefully because of some of the nonsense that we’ve seen caused by the disruption,” added the Tory mayor.

TVCA chief executive Julie Gilhespie previously said the investigators hoped to report before parliament’s summer recess. But this started on 20 July.

Local government minister Lee Rowley said when the inquiry was announced in June:

“I want to stress we have not seen evidence of corruption, wrongdoing, or illegality in relation to Teesworks, but it is apparent the allegations present a risk to the delivery of jobs and economic growth in the region. Given the importance to Tees Valley of addressing this matter, and the request made by the mayor, the government has appointed an independent panel to review the arrangements.”

Labour accused the government of blocking a fully independent investigation, with Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham calling for an “end to secrecy”, while the Conservative Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke accused his opponents of a

“cynical, shameless and seedy attempt to talk down Teesside”.

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