A POLITICIAN has criticised Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen for not informing local MPs of the US Ambassador's visit to the area this week.

Mike Hill, Labour MP for Hartlepool, believes he should have been informed 'at least out of courtesy', by the Conservative Mayor.

US President Donald Trump's UK representative Woody Johnson visited the region this week to meet business leaders and see for himself plans for the former steelworks site at Redcar.

His visit was against the backdrop of a planned free trade deal between the two countries after Brexit, which Mr Johnson said was 'on the President's desk'.

But Mr Hill said he would have wanted to meet Mr Johnson to challenge him on several points.

He said: "The visit by Woody Johnson to our neck of the woods is an important one given his business background and the current focus on the creation of a trade deal between the USA and the UK. As the local MP I am extremely disappointed that I wasn’t told of the visit, at least out of courtesy, by the Tory Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, as the survival and growth of industry and jobs in a post Brexit Britain is a priority for all Politicians and should bridge the political divide.

"Mr Johnson’s astronomical wealth lies in the manufacture of Pharmaceuticals so it would have been good to meet him to challenge his comments on the BBC Andrew Marr show recently about our NHS services being up for grabs in any trade deal with the USA.

"It would also have been good to have picked his brains about lifting the current high Steel Tariffs imposed on us by America which clearly will impact on our manufacturing base here in the Tees Valley and in the UK."

Mr Houchen did not want to comment, but it is understood the visit was organised by the Ambassador and not by his office.

Mr Johnson did not visit the Hartlepool constituency, but was close to its border as he toured the ConocoPhillips site at Seal Sands. It is also understood that no MPs were involved in the visit, either local Conservative MPs, or Labour. He visited Middlesbrough Town Hall and met with companies including Cubic and Venator.