HUNDREDS of Cleveland Bridge workers will be waiting by their phones from 4pm today as a key meeting starts which will decide their futures.

MPs Peter Gibson and Paul Howell and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen will be sitting down with unions and the Administration team from FRP to find out if a potential buyer is waiting in the wings.

There seems to be a cautious note of optimism around the table and while that might have been the right calming note to strike when the whole dreadful story broke last week, it now seems to be more based in fact - or at least strong rumours.

It might actually be that the dominance of the company - the very thing that made those first headlines so shocking - might be its saviour.

It seems there may be buyers across the world who have the experience to see past the last few days and who have the confidence to take it on and run it in a different way to provide sustainable stability.

It was at 8.28 last Wednesday morning that workers started to contact The Northern Echo business desk. Seven days and seven hours later seven people will meet to discuss the future of this Northern icon.

For every hour inbetween they have all been working flat out so they can bring something to the table - contacts, deals, grants, offers or hope - the workers will take it all and build on it to try to secure once again a life for them and their families in the communities they grew up in.

The three-man team from Adminstrators FRP suggested there was a deal to be done as soon as they were appointed, telling The Northern Echo: "It has great potential and should attract interest from the steel fabricants sector and other firms.”

Yesterday, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “We’re continuing to work with the administrators, unions and potential investors in a bid to save jobs for local people and protect the families and local communities they support.

“Along with local MPs, I will be meeting the Trade Unions and the administrators and as Mayor, I’ll work night and day and speak to whoever I need to to secure the future of the business.”

Steve Thompkins at the GMB said: "We're pleased the staff have been able to get on to furlough.

"But we need clarity so they can make their decisions."