A community came out in solidarity to support a union campaign which hopes to reignite Teesside's steel prowess following news that a £1.25bn British Steel furnace could be built next year.

The Support UK Steel campaign, organised by Unite the Union, demonstrated its latest act of solidary on Grisedale Crescent in Middlesbrough today (February 1) as several homes displayed signs backing the movement.

The campaign, which was launched at Grangetown Generations Voluntary Community Organisation in November, aims to bring the industry and the region back to life nine years after it ended with ‘four pledges for steel’.

The Northern Echo: Grisedale Crescent, Middlesbrough.Grisedale Crescent, Middlesbrough. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

This includes a vote of confidence from the government to allow UK public contracts to use 100 per cent British-made steel, investing in a steelworker's green transition plan to retain jobs, a plea to tackle energy prices and for more funding in general.

The campaign is still pushing ahead just months after British Steel announced plans to build a new furnace near British Steel's Teesside Beam Mill, at Lackenby and Special Profiles plant at Skinningrove which process steel for industrial uses.

Now, organisers are hoping this latest demonstration will boost both community engagement and belief in the campaign before they call on politicians to back their ideas.

Unite regional officer Pat McCourt took to the streets of Middlesbrough to drum up support which, so far, he says has ben highly positive.

The Northern Echo: Unite regional officer Pat McCourt.Unite regional officer Pat McCourt. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

He said: "We've had fantastic support for our campaign from the local community on Teesside. They understand that if this campaign is successful and the UK government supports the steel industry which will result in jobs. 

"This town and this area can have a solid future within the steel industry going forward and for many years to come."

He added: "The UK could be the world leader in green steel production if we get government support. We know there is a general election coming up, so this is a message to politicians on the campaign trail talking to residents.

The Northern Echo: Grisedale Crescent, Middlesbrough.Grisedale Crescent, Middlesbrough. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

"They will want to hear a strong commitment from politicians to support UK steel."

Sarah Stanwick, 37, was one resident on Grisedale Crescent who displayed a banner for the campaign. 

"I really think it's a good movement, my dad did work in the steelworks when I was young," she said.

"For jobs, steel work is so important as now there are so many more people who are unemployed."

69-year-old veteran Janet Fensom, who was born in Grangetown, was another resident who got behind Unite's movement.

The Northern Echo: Janet Fensom.Janet Fensom. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

She said she feels a sense of "loyalty" to the industry, explaining that her father's career in steel spanned nearly 40 years.

"I think this campaign is brilliant. Everybody needs to have a voice, and we need to get people to listen," she said.

"There has been a huge change in the area since the steelworks closed. Around here, there is nothing to do. I have children and grandchildren and there is no hope for work in big industries here.

"The government and politicians need to take notice now and put it right. Why take steel out of Teesside? It's ridiculous that we're importing what is inferior steel."

Lavinia Dawson, 52, also of Grangetown, also made the choice to back the campaign.

She said: "I think it's bad that they have shut everything down, and I did used to work over there myself for about eight years.

"When I started working there in 1997, everything was up and running - now, it's all gone.

"I think it's good that everyone wants to get on board. 

Now, as they prepare their next show of solidarity, Paddy Hill of Unite the Union says the end-game of the campaign is to truly bring back Teesside to its former glory.

The Northern Echo: Paddy Hill of Unite the Union Paddy Hill of Unite the Union (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

He said: "If you get the community mobilised first, we can move on to the political aspect and go from there - this push goes from the bottom upwards.


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"Whoever is in power needs to commit themselves to sustainable investment - not just sticking plasters. We want a long-term plan.

"This is all about sustainability - if a steel plant has to go, don't take it away like they did with the coal mines, there has to always be a future plan."

The next stage of the campaign will be in Dormanstown, with a similar show of solidarity set to take place in the coming weeks.