August is the silly month, with the press scrabbling for copy to fill column inches left empty by the political recess. It is the perfect season for Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, sultan of spin, to create a “secret radioactive waste dump” conspiracy theory. In eleven August days, he accused Hartlepool Labour Group, smeared a local charity, ousted the town’s Tory Deputy Mayor and kicked a proposed nuclear waste site into the long grass. And came out of it smelling of roses. This was trial by facebook. On 6 August, Houchen posted that a secret meeting had taken place between Hartlepool’s Labour Group councillors and a local charity The Wharton Trust, that plotted to install a nuclear waste dump in the town.
North East Bylines 31st Aug 2021 read more »