“REDCAR steelworks is not a part of the Northern Powerhouse plan,” a prominent Tees Valley Tory activist and business owner told me last week.

I was shocked by that revelation, but the signs have been there for some time.

Neither David Cameron nor Mr Osborne have visited the SSI steelworks – one of our region’s largest employers - since production restarted in April 2012.

In that same period they have each visited Nissan’s Sunderland plant on numerous occasions, and the PM even popped in for a cuppa at the Eaglescliffe Tetley tea bag factory to voice his belief in a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ that would build a region full of thriving businesses and world-beating industrial infrastructure capable of challenging London and the South East. They have both visited Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory which only opened at the start of this month.

I’m not questioning why the country’s two most powerful political figures should visit Nissan or Hitachi – they are hugely important parts of our regional economy – but so too is Teesside steelworks. Wasn’t it worth a visit? Where was Redcar’s vote of confidence?

Its return from mothballing three and half years was one of the biggest industrial success stories this century. A British blast furnace has NEVER been mothballed and brought back to life. Its return to production was fairytale stuff and exactly the kind of feelgood story that would usually have politicians falling over themselves to grab a bit of the reflected glory – it is the kind of thing MPs from all parties have done for centuries.

Was the steelworks deemed an industrial throwback that the Government spurned in favour of shiny car plants and digital hubs?

Its benefit to the North-East economy was colossal. SSI Redcar kept more than 3,000 people in work and supported about 6,000 supplier jobs – contributing a whopping seven per cent to the total value of North-East exports. A year after the plant reopened Thailand became the region’s fastest growing overseas market with an increase of 118 per cent as our exports of iron and steel rose by 78 per cent on the previous year. Steel is a foundation industry which underpins so much more activity in so many sectors. Letting it collapse suggest the government has no coherent industrial strategy – no joined-up thinking that sees a link between a steelworks and its plan to rebuild railways, power plants, chemicals works and become a world leader in renewable energy. Steel plays a crucial part in all of these areas.

If that isn’t a powerhouse industry then I don’t know what is.

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