Sajid Javid could still avert a disaster on Teesside

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The Independent Online

The steel bell is tolling for Teesside. As China floods the world market with millions of tonnes of the the stuff, the UK’s industry has been left on life support. The owner of Redcar’s blast furnace, Thailand’s SSI, is teetering on the brink while administrators circle overhead.

A disaster at the furnace (at least for its future) was only narrowly averted recently, it having been left to cool for five days before being restarted just before its iron could permanently set. But it’s gone cold again.

It has been mothballed before, and could be again. The problem is that this isn’t a simple process and it can’t be done quickly in the midst of a crisis.

There is now a real danger that those marching makers the Government wants to construct a Northern Powerhouse are going to have their legs broken. Redcar’s demise would have ramifications beyond the 3,000 employed directly at the plant. A huge supply chain would be devastated.

The furnace’s last chance may now lie with Sajid Javid, the former banker turned staunch non-interventionist Business Secretary. His professed stance is rather ironic, given his background in investment banking, an industry that has enjoyed billions of pounds of taxpayer support to keep it afloat and pay for its mistakes.

Teesside may very well be left wondering why what’s good for the banking goose is so unthinkable for the industrial gander.

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