THE political fallout from the Government's announcement of £123m to start preparing the former SSI steelworks site continues as the two major parties clash over the funding details.

The Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen reiterated that all the money is newly allocated after facing a barrage of counter-claims from the area's Labour MPs.

And his argument has been backed by an announcement from the Treasury office to clarify the position.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council leader Sue Jeffrey, who is also the vice chairwoman of the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC), welcomed the news of the investment but criticised the Government for not doing enough to regenerate the site.

Cllr Jeffrey said far from being the ‘historic settlement’ – as described by the Tees Valley Mayor – the budget had revealed that by April 2022 that cost will have risen to £0.25bn.

The Labour councillor, who stood in the Tees Valley Mayoral race, said: "Whilst I welcome the modest allocation of £5m to kick-start the work of the development corporation, this pales into insignificance when compared to the huge cost of keep-safe and security activity.

"Government has had no choice but to continue to fund these costs but the majority is lost money and will not deliver one new job on the site."

Critics also focused on the £68m to be paid to a Government created company – the South Tees Site Company (STSC) which is chaired by Cllr Jeffrey – to continue to maintain the site.

Mr Houchen accepts that the money will not immediately deliver jobs to the site but says the funding package will enable the STDC to start preparing it for future development.

And said the key to the regeneration project taking off properly was securing the ownership of the land.

"This money does not absolve the Government of its responsibilities over site safety and we can go back to them further down the line," he said.

"The next phase is getting the issue resolved with the Thai Banks over the ownership of the land – progress is being made but it is not going to happen over night.

"Once we have secured ownership, we will be able to start to market the site, which is what the £5m is to be used for."

A HM Treasury spokeswoman has confirmed the Mayor's stance, saying: “We are providing £123 million of new investment into the SSI Redcar Steelworks site to help the Tees Valley Mayor and local partners boost their local economy.

"The South Tees Development Corporation will receive £5 million of this to help them take ownership of the site, and the remaining £118 million will go toward preparing it for development."