COUNCILLORS representing the area around the proposed site for a battery-producing gigafactory have voiced concerns after the company looking to revive the project had its offices raided by police in Australia.

Scale Facilitation is the parent company of Recharge Industries, which has been identified as the preferred bidder for Britishvolt after its collapse earlier this year – but has yet to pay for the prospective plant site at Cambois near Blyth.

An investigation into alleged tax fraud has seen the offices of Scale Facilitation and SaniteX raided by authorities in Australia on Friday. It has been reported that staff wages at the firm’s Australian offices went unpaid for two weeks. Payments are now understood to have been met.

And now Labour opposition members on Northumberland County Council have voiced concerns over the future of the project at a meeting of the authority’s corporate services and economic growth scrutiny committee.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Councillor Alex Wallace called for greater transparency around the site. Cllr Wallace represents the Sleekburn ward which encompasses Cambois.

He said: “For the two years I have been a county councillor there has been something happening within 400 yards of where I live. Unless I read the papers or listen to the radio I haven’t got a clue what is happening with major investment from the Government and this council in Energy Central.

“Today I’m being told about offices being raided for fraud. I’m hoping I’ve still got 3,000 jobs coming to my area. I’ve got no answers from anybody that picks up the phone to me, or in the corner shop, or in the bar.

“Where can I find answers? I’ve sat through meetings where I’ve said Sleekburn will be the jewel in the crown for this authority. I was on my prayer mat for Britishvolt.

“We’ve had so many false downs in the Cambois area. Frustration is rife.”

Cllr Lynne Grimshaw, who represents the Bothal ward, added: “We’re seeing on the news it is going to be three or four weeks delay. That is not acceptable.

“It is so frustrating. It’s not good enough for the residents.”

The meeting’s chairman, Cllr David Bawn, asked members to avoid speculating due to the live nature of the situation. This was echoed by deputy leader Cllr Richard Wearmouth.

He said: “There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, but there is a lot we can’t say until such a time that something concludes and we move to another stage.

“It is a fantastic site, it will be the jewel in the crown. All I can say at the moment is urge patience because getting it right is absolutely the most important thing.”

Independent councillor Malcolm Robinson, who represents the Bedlington West ward, said councillors should be provided with more information – and suggested holding parts of future meetings behind closed doors so members could stay informed.

He said: “There are three councillors here with a very local responsibility for that Cambois site. We all hope it goes ahead, it’s a big part of Northumberland County Council.

“We keep hearing that there’s matters of confidentiality, but we could have a closed session so we can hear what is going on. I would be asking about due diligence and things like that – there are questions to be asked for the benefit of our local residents.”

It was agreed to bring a new report to the next meeting of the committee to be heard in closed session.

Recharge acquired Britishvolt’s assets for £8.6m in March but has been negotiating with Northumberland County Council over the actual site as the authority has a buy-back clause over the land in the event a battery plant was not built there. Just last month, the company insisted the project remained on track.