Tees

Redcar and Cleveland council accused of 'standing on the sidelines'

Former Redcar and Cleveland Council leader and Labour member for South Bank, Cllr Sue Jeffrey
Image caption Sue Jeffrey denied she was "talking down" the borough's economy

A council's former leader has warned it is "sleepwalking into a new jobs crisis". 

Labour's Sue Jeffrey accused Redcar and Cleveland Council of "standing on the sidelines watching it happen".

She raised concerns about the progress of regeneration projects such as the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) and the SSI Taskforce.

Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen accused her of having "no positive vision for the area".

Mrs Jeffrey demanded clarity on the future of the SSI Taskforce, set up in the wake of the Redcar Steelworks closure and loss of 4,000 jobs, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

She expressed fears the Atlantic Superconnector pipeline, which would run an energy cable between Iceland and the Redcar Bulk Terminal, could go elsewhere.

Mrs Jeffrey, who stood as candidate for mayor, also queried the "failure to secure new investors" at the STDC. 

"What about the jobs we keep hearing about?" she said. "There's been very little progress made."

Image caption Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said progress was being made to regenerate the area

Mr Houchen said one investor was signing up to come onto the STDC site, two planning applications were imminent and work was taking place on a hydrogen train refuelling station.

Discussions about the Atlantic Superconnector were continuing with regulator OfGem, as were talks between the Icelandic and UK governments, he said. 

"And all she wants to do is talk the area down and bring up the spectre of the area being on its knees," Mr Houchen said. 

Mrs Jeffrey denied she was "talking down our economy".

"I've done nothing but talk up this borough for the last four and a half years," she said.

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