BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable said the future was looking better for the mothballed Teesside Cast Products (TCP) plant after meeting Corus bosses yesterday.

Speculation had been rife on Teesside that Mr Cable’s visit was related to an imminent announcement that Thai company Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) is to take control of the TCP facility, near Redcar, east Cleveland.

It was fuelled by reports in the Far East and India stating that sources expected an imminent announcement.

During his visit to the Corus-run Teesside Beam Mill, in Lackenby, Mr Cable said: “I haven’t been told anything new today. It is clear negotiations are taking place, apparently going very well.

“It looks much better than it has been for a long time, but we can’t count chickens.”

He added: “I can’t be more precise, I don’t have inside information.”

Mr Cable added that the Government had not been approached for financial aid connected to any deal.

TCP managing director Jon Bolton said that because of the confidential nature of any discussions with outside parties to buy TCP, he could not give details of any potential deal.

He said: “We are always hopeful.”

It would take about six months to bring TCP back to full operations.

Corus yesterday announced it would extend its support to a skills and training scheme for workers at risk of redundancy from TCP.

About 50 people joined the programme, which started at the beginning of June and which was due to last for three months.

Corus will now pay the bursaries awarded to people on the scheme for a further three months.

In addition, a further £300,000 was released from the £60m Tees Valley Industrial Programme, launched in December, to extend training at Gateshead College aimed at helping former Corus workers secure new employment.