William Eichler 30 January 2024

Teesworks inquiry finds no evidence of ‘corruption’

Teesworks inquiry finds no evidence of ‘corruption’ image
Image: benhouchen.com.

An inquiry into accusations of corruption relating to the finances behind the Teesworks regeneration scheme has found no evidence of ‘illegality’ but questions were raised over ‘transparency’.

The independent review of the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s (TVCA) oversight of the South Tees Development Corporation Board (STDC) and Teesworks Joint Venture concluded there was ‘no evidence to support allegations of corruption or illegality.’

However, the report said there are ‘issues of governance and transparency that need to be addressed’ and added that ‘a number of decisions taken by the bodies involved do not meet the standards expected when managing public funds.’

Teesworks is one of the largest brownfield remediation projects in Europe. It has £560m of resources behind it, including £246m in Government grants and £257m prudential borrowing.

The investigation was launched after the Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald claimed in Parliament that the regeneration scheme harboured ‘corruption on an industrial scale’.

Responding to the report’s findings, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: ‘The people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool can welcome this investigation, which sets out in black and white that there is no corruption or illegality at Teesworks.’

He added: ‘I welcome the recommendations of the panel and my team and I are already working to review the recommendations to improve our processes and procedures in line with the report’s findings.’

Mayor Houchen also accused Mr McDonald of lying in Parliament ‘in an attempt to sabotage the opportunities we’ve worked so hard to deliver’.

Taking to Twitter/X, Mr McDonald described the report’s findings as ‘damning’.

‘What is clear is there are massive concerns about governance and finance, oversight, scrutiny, and value for money – all of the things that I have said over these years.’

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