TEES Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has doubled down on his criticism of Thai Banks after he was accused of being rude and “offensive”.

Exchanges were revealed within hundreds of pages of documents lodged ahead of crunch hearings next week to try and buy back 870 acres of former steelworks land in Redcar.

The trio of banks will contest efforts to make them sell the land to the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) at the South Tees Business Centre, in South Bank, next week.

But the lack of progress in the stand-off has seen a loss of patience from the metro mayor.

Last year, he argued the banks had been taking Teesside “for a ride” and had “not played ball”.

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

However, documents prepared for next week’s hearing revealed the Thai banks haven’t taken kindly to the mayor’s approach.

A report by Simon Melhuish-Hancock, on behalf of SSI and the banks, claimed the STDC had “closed itself off” to discussions given past heated exchanges.

And Mr Melhuish-Hancock hit back at Mr Houchen’s references to “three foreign banks”.

He added: “I find this type of remark from Ben Houchen offensive, because of the way in which it attacks the Thai Banks simply because they are “foreign”.

“I doubt very much if Ben Houchen would speak in such derogatory tones about a major UK bank – so I don’t understand why he feels the need to do so about banks simply because they are based in Thailand.”

Costs have been estimated at about £16m a year to keep the former steelworks site safe – with about 5,000 tonnes of “residual by-products” classed as “dangerous substances” on the site.

Since the closure of the steelworks in 2015 – and the loss of more than 2,500 jobs – the government has approved funding of £221m to keep the SSI land safe and to operate South Tees Site Company up to 2022.

This doesn’t include the £71m pledged for the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) last month.

It is understood the STDC offered between £17m and £18m to the three banks for the SSI assets and land following a valuation.

But the banks and SSI don’t agree with the value offered up.

Mr Houchen doubled down on his stance against the banks in the wake of the fresh criticism.

He said: “I’m passionate about this site and I am emotionally attached to the redevelopment and the regeneration of site which is unique to anywhere in Europe.

“It will deliver 20,000 over 25 years – we’ve got a clear plan and the white noise of the Thai banks getting upset about my strong and passionate position on us being able to take back control of the Redcar steelworks site is irrelevant to me.

“My whole drive is about bringing jobs to Teesside and making sure Teesside succeeds in the future.

“If that hurts their feelings, then so be it.”

The schedule for the stand off between the STDC and objectors to the purchase has now been set in stone.

Hearings will be held in South Bank in the shadow of the former coke ovens where two workers died last year.

The first week will see the development corporation argue why the compulsory purchase of the 870-acres of land is in the public interest.

Then the banks and a raft of other objectors will set out their arguments against it in week two.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands efforts to strike an eleventh hour deal for the land are still ongoing ahead of proceedings next Tuesday.