A COMPULSORY purchase of land belonging to a former steelworks could be triggered within days after talks between a Mayor and Thai banks broke down.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has already secured almost 1,500 acres of land around the former SSI site in Redcar, but was hoping to reach an agreement with three Thai banks that currently own the steelworks.

But Mr Houchen said although he had been negotiating "in good faith", he was not prepared to wait any longer and he would use the powers given to him by Parliament to secure the land.

Thousands of jobs were lost when SSI closed in 2015, but the Mayor's 25-year-plan for the South Tees Development Corporation hopes to bring £1bn to the North-East.

Mr Houchen said: “We have already acquired 1,420 acres of land on Redcar steelworks site, but we still need to secure the remaining 870 acres held by SSI in receivership. That’s why I’ll be issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order this month to secure their landholding. Parliament handed me this power for a reason, and I’m going to use it.

“I’m not prepared to wait any longer - enough is enough. We have been negotiating in good faith for almost two years, but it’s clear we are not on the same page and it gets to a point where I have to draw a line.

“Three thousand people lost their livelihoods overnight and I want to secure the rest of the site back for them, so we can crack on clearing it up and bring in new investors and jobs for local people.

“I’m not prepared to write blank cheques on behalf of the taxpayer and be held to ransom by three foreign banks. I’ll pay fair market value but not a penny more.

“The Thai Banks are clearly not playing ball, so we’ll exercise our powers to ensure local people are back in control of that entire site.”

Redcar MP Anna Turley said: "It is very disappointing that a deal to secure the SSI land has not been reached with the Thai banks but it is clear they were not playing ball and the time is long overdue to pursue a compulsory purchase.

"They have held the area to ransom for far too long. Three and a half years on from the devastating closure, we are yet to see any jobs created there and I still speak to many former workers who have been unable to get back on their feet. Our town and our people cannot be held back any longer.

"Whilst the Development Corporation now owns the Tata land and can start development there, the SSI site is a significant and crucial part of the picture and until that is secured and then cleaned up, the full potential of the site including the jobs and investment we desperately need will not be delivered.”