Ben Houchen was elected as the Mayor of the Tees Valley in May 2017 and then reelected in 2021. The Tees Valley area covers the five boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees.
In 2023, he went on Newsnight and lied (or misled) the viewers about how much money had been invested by private developers. He quoted millions when, in fact, the figure is zero.
The context was that in 2023, Houchen faced criticism when it was revealed that a 90 percent stake in Teesworks, the company operating the vacant Redcar Steelworks site, had been transferred to local developers Chris Musgrave and Martin Corney without undergoing a public tender process. Further scrutiny revealed that these private developers had received a minimum of £45 million in dividends and held £63 million in cash from the project, despite not making any direct financial contributions themselves.
A subsequent investigation uncovered that the Tees Valley Combined Authority and South Tees Development Corporation did not meet the expected standards for managing public funds. This raised concerns about transparency and oversight within the system, questioning the ability to demonstrate value for money in the project.
Watch Victoria Derbyshire rip Houchen to shreds.
Victoria Derbyshire tearing Ben Houchen a new one over the Teeside freeport is a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/8LVqtYwYP3— Parody Rishi Sunak (@Parody_PM) February 9, 2024
Wherever we look, there is corruption. Too many people who have power are doing it for themselves, not us, the public.
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