What does it do? Has taken over local councils' tasks of promoting economic and urban regeneration.
Do the councils object? Yes. Corporation plans to build a marina in Hartlepool and a supermarket park in Stockton have been condemned by councillors as 'irrelevant'.
Who controls it? The 12-member board is appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment - currently John Gummer. It includes three elected councillors, but they are there because Mr Gummer gave them the jobs, not because the voters of Cleveland decided that they should represent their interests. The Secretary of State can remove them if he wishes.
Why is it in the news? Last week one of the biggest projects it has supported - the Livera cake factory - went into receivership. The corporation gave it pounds 2.36m 18 months ago - its second biggest grant. About 150 workers were made redundant.
Were there any warning signs? Chris Liveras, the Greek Cypriot 'cake king' behind the factory, had served a jail sentence for fraud 13 years ago. The corporation knew this but still decided to give him the grant. Last autumn, Liveras quietly sold his shares in the bakery and signed away control of the factory.
What has been the reaction of the corporation? Ron Norman, the chairman, said: 'I suppose we have egg on our faces.' No one has resigned, no one can be surcharged, and there is no chance, said a spokeswoman, that the money spent on building the factory will be recovered.
Accountability: Public and press banned from meetings. No statutory rights to see documents.Reuse content