THE next step of a major plan to bring steelmaking back to Teesside and create 20,000 new jobs on the site of the former Redcar steelworks was officially confirmed on Friday.

This morning, the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Chief Secretary of The Treasury Rishi Sunak met with North-East MPs at the disused site to announce a further £70m had been awarded towards its redevelopment.

The former SSI Steelworks site, which was opened in 1979 and employed about 1,700 people at the time of its closure in 2015, has remained mothballed with only a hundred employed to maintain site safety.

At the site Mr Houchen said the £70m investment, on top of the already £138m awarded since 2017, would complete the final step needed for the clear up of the site.

He told The Northern Echo: “This means we have the money to remediate the site, to demolish some of the old assets and get more investment and jobs back to the site that we sorely need and deserve.”

Mr Houchen, who only recently re-ignited his pledge to “bring steelmaking back to Teesside” as part of his campaign for re-election, said he would ensure the money was used efficiently to ensure it could attract high-quality businesses to the 4,500 acre site.

Guaranteeing thousands of jobs would be created at the site, he said: “So the size and scale and nature of this site, it will take time, but that’s why need the vast sums of money that the government have given us.

“We’ve said very clearly that over 25 years there will be the creation of 20,000 jobs as the result of the south tees corporation site and I’m still very much confident that will happen.”

The Northern Echo:

Part of the site, which is currently owned by three Thai banks - Krung Thai, Siam Commercial and Tisco, is expected to be returned to public ownership if a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) is successful next month.

Mr Houchen, who is also chair of the South Tees Development Corporation which would receive remaining land and former assets, said: “The Thai banks shouldn’t be playing such stupid games and they should come to the negotiation table and settle this before the inquiry.

“The CPO is looking extremely strong, the only major objection that the Thai banks had was that we didn’t have the financial wear with all to be able to deliver on the plans that we had, and that’s something that we have to be able to prove in the inquiry and the money that’s been signed off today means we can show that, and means we’re in a very strong position.”

Conservative MPs Jacob Young for Redcar and Simon Clarke for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland both welcomed the announcement as "fantastic news" for the area as Mr Clarke said it was a momentous day for Teesside.

Richmondshire MP and Chief Secretary to The Treasury Rishi Sunak said government was committed to the Tees Valley.

He said: “This is an important part of Ben's plan, one that the government is excited to support – the government as a whole is committed to levelling up across the UK. The Tees Valley is an important part of that."

Mr Sunak, who said the government was creating more jobs in the North-East, said: “The total investment now has been over £200m and that will allow the Mayor to get full control of the site and get cracking on his plans.

The Northern Echo:

“Across the North-East we’re creating more jobs and unemployment is low, but we can’t rest on our laurels, which is why we constantly need to be looking for opportunities like this to provide future opportunities for people which is why this site is so important."

The Northern Echo:

Independent Councillor and council leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Mary Lanigan: "It's excellent that central government have put further money here.

"Its closure was devastating for Redcar, a lot of highly-skilled men lost their jobs and we haven't quite recovered and so this is another major step forward for us.

"This money is needed to make sure we get the infrastructure in and the old buildings cleared for the new businesses and work."

  • Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen will go against The Labour Party's Jessie Joe Jacobs in the upcoming Mayoral elections.