A LABOUR mayoral candidate who has previously criticised the amount of money spent at Teesside Airport has said she would continue its ten-year turnaround plan just weeks before voters go to the polls.

Jessie Joe Jacobs, who is aiming to oust Ben Houchen in the May elections, has vowed to continue with funding already agreed as part of the airport’s rescue plan.

Ms Jacobs has previously criticised the amount of money spent on the airport, describing the total spend during the pandemic on terminal redevelopments as a 'big concern.'

But the Labour candidate now claims she has 'no plans to change course' and would continue with the airport's ten-year transformation plan.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Ms Jacobs also reiterated claims the airport needed more accountability on how public money is being used.

But in response, current Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen claimed “there is not a more transparent airport in the country”, before saying Ms Jacob’ comments about the 10-year plan were “naked politicking and hypocrisy”.

Meanwhile Mr Houchen also hit out at Ms Jacob’s criticism of the airport terminal spending, saying the upgrade is part of the published 10-year plan which she is now backing.

The comments came as both candidates responded following the recent news that Loganair had cancelled its Teesside to Dublin route because demand was "below expectations."

Ms Jacobs said: “We need to see accountability at the airport with the spending of public money. The airport means a lot to people – but there is no accountability.

“We have got to have checks and balances so we can say this is how your money is being spent, in order to protect the funds and integrity.

“My big concern is there has been a lot of money spent during the crisis, on an airport lounge.

"The airport has been promoting itself a lot at a time when other publicly owned airports aren’t because why would you promote, because people can’t fly.

"My big issue is the airport is being put at risk by this."

Telling The Northern Echo for the first time, there are no plans to deviate from spending already allocated to the airport, she said: "I have no plans to change course, I will continue with the plan.

"I am not going to start clawing back funding, as I have said previously, I want to ensure there is some form of accountability."

Mr Houchen said: "There is accountability, the airport is owned by the Tees Valley Combined Authority which is scrutinised by five leaders, who get monthly reports on the airport. Reports of the airport come back to councillors who are Labour, Conservative and Independent – there is not a more transparent airport in the country.

“This lays bare the disaster my opponent would be if she won. For years the Labour Party ran our airport into the ground with Peel, even supporting their plans to turn our airport into a housing estate.

“For the last 18 months my opponent has done nothing but talk down our airport, saying it is a waste of money and that every pound spent on it was a pound wasted. Now, three weeks before the election, she agrees with my 10-year plan for the airport.

“My plea to the voters of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is ignore the publicity stunt and look at Labour’s record - a lack of investment and running it into the ground and then look at what we have done over the past 4 years - secured new flights, overhauled the terminal and created jobs for local people. Don’t put all that hard work at risk.”

  • The Tees Valley Mayoral elections are due to take place on May 6 with Labour's Ms Jacobs and Conservative's Mr Houchen going head to head – there are no other candidates.