Tory Mayor for Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen recently denied claims of “industrial-scale corruption” at a major industrial site.
Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said questions needed to be answered over hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money invested at Teesworks, after Private Eye published the claims.
Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said the claims were “untrue” and the work was being “smeared.”
A Teesworks spokesperson said individuals involved in the project had “nothing to hide.”
In response Ben released a statement against Andy McDonald.
He shared it and wrote: “Following misinformation from Labour politicians-first propagated by Andy McDonald the corbynist MP for Middlesbrough-investors were concerned by these lies and smears, which could have cost our area much needed investment and jobs. Thankfully the truth has removed these concerns.”
He added: “Recently there were also lies propagated by Private Eye who suggested we had sold a ‘valuable’ piece of land for £100. This is untrue. The truth is that a deal with SeAH Wind, that will create 2000+ jobs,will return £40m+ to the public purse and £7m pa for 40yrs in business rates.”
Then yesterday the Private Eye journalist tweeted at him: “You did sell it for £100. Here’s the Land Registry proof. We also reported the income that the public sector keeps (worth about 18% of what 90%-private-owned Teesworks Ltd gets). Maybe your press office will now answer questions (having refused to before and since the piece).”
Ben replied: “Here’s the liar in chief. A man who misrepresents basic facts. He thinks that by showing a transfer deed this shows all the value for a land transaction, even though we have explained to him we got £15m for deal and £26m over 40 years plus we get £7m a year in business rates.”
Brooks replied: “No – you refused to supply any details. What is the £15m for? (You have only mentioned since the piece – despite plenty of opportunities beforehand and I’ve asked umpteen times since). And – read the piece again – we included the £26m.”
He replied: “Lies. You didn’t include the £26m in your original piece. Assume you’ll print a retraction and provide a full apology when you accept you are wrong.”
Richard replied: “Do you read before ranting? We covered the £0.65m a year for 40 years, which is £26m in cash terms. Which we value in present money at £14m, just as we valued the £3.65m a year Teesworks gets at app £75m for like with like comparison.”
It seems the argument will run and run…