A MAYOR has begun proceedings to instigate the purchase of hundreds of acres of land belonging to a former steelworks.

The South Tees Development Corporation has today (April 4) signed an executive order to instigate Compulsory Purchase proceedings in respect of 870 acres of land at the former SSI steelworks in Redcar.

It follows a deal signed by the Tees Valley Mayor to acquire over half of the developable land on the South Tees Development Corporation site from Tata Steel Europe.

At 1,420 acres, it represents an area about the size of Gibraltar.

Negotiations to secure the former SSI land had been ongoing since May 2017 with the three banks in Thailand who hold a charge over the SSI UK’s assets; Krung Thai Bank Public Company Limited, The Siam Commercial Bank Public Company Limited and TISCO Bank Public Company Limited.

Despite numerous attempts to negotiate a transfer, and an offer from the Development Corporation to enter binding arbitration over the land, no formal agreement has been reached to date.

However, they will seek to continue with negotiations within the CPO framework.

A successful Compulsory Purchase Order will see the ex-SSI steelmaking assets be brought back into public ownership and in control of the Development Corporation.

Mr Houchen said: “We have been negotiating in good faith since I was elected, but it’s clear now that the Thai Banks are taking us for a ride.
“Almost 3,000 people lost their livelihoods in 2015 when SSI collapsed, and I owe it to the former steelworkers and their families to secure the rest of the site for the people of Teesside where it belongs.

“I’m not prepared to write blank cheques on behalf of the taxpayer and be held to ransom by three foreign banks.

“Today I have commenced compulsory purchase proceedings to take back control of the Redcar steelworks.

“Having met with the Thai banks on Friday we left them under no illusion that there is growing anger at the way in which they have approached the negotiations.

“Following that meeting it was clear to me that the Thai Banks are not playing ball, so exercising the powers handed to us by Parliament to ensure local people are back in control of the entire site is essential.

"Once we control the entire site, we’ll be able to land even more investment and create even more jobs for local people.”

Redcar MP Anna Turley said: “The Thai banks have been allowed to hold the area to ransom for far too long and compulsory purchase is long overdue.

“We now have to wait at least 15 months for this process to conclude before the land will finally be ours – that will be almost a five year wait since the closure and still not a single new job.

"Our area is still feeling the painful consequences of the closure and I hear from many former steelworkers having to work away and for lower pay. There is a real urgency to get jobs and investment back on the land so we can truly move on and deliver an industrial renaissance for Teesside.

“Securing the Tata land has been a very welcome step but now we need the resources to deliver on our ambitions. We are demanding the government cough up the cash needed to clean up this hazardous site, so we are ready to hit the ground running when the CPO is complete.”