THE dense Teesworks report will take weeks to fully digest and will become a Conservative versus Labour battle in the run-up to the mayoral election and then the general election.

The debate on the report in the House of Commons was acrimonious as our MPs clashed across the party divide.

The Tees Valley Tory MPs now want the Speaker to intervene over Middlesbrough’s Labour MP Andy McDonald’s claim that there was “industrial-scale corruption” on the site, which the report unequivocally rebuts.

It is correct that there is merit in a debate about whether the use of Parliamentary privilege went too far, although it must also be acknowledged that Mr McDonald’s outspokenness caused the commissioning of a valuable report.

It should not be lost in the political tussle that the report has criticism for bodies beyond the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), which Mayor Ben Houchen heads, and the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC), which the TVCA put in charge of the Teesworks site.

For instance, TVCA is made up of “constituent authorities”, which are the councils of Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Redcar, and Hartlepool. Their leaders, councillors and officers are meant to be the eyes and ears of their local people at combined authority meetings.

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But Paragraph 8.6 of the report says: “The leaders and statutory officers within the constituent authorities appear to have a limited understanding of what is going on within STDC and little curiosity to explore and understand the decisions being made.”

This is quite shocking. Perhaps if the leaders and officers of our five local councils over the last few years had shown more curiosity, the report would not have been needed.

This should also be a lesson for Durham and North Yorkshire which are about to pool up some of their responsibilities to a mayor. They still have a duty to scrutinise what is being done on behalf of local people.