A BUSINESSMAN who hoped to build a factory at a redundant cement works - creating 135 jobs - has switched his attention to another site.

Terry Simmons wanted to open a building board plant at LaFarge's Blue Circle Cement works, in Eastgate, Weardale, which closed last August with the loss of 147 jobs.

But after failing to secure a deal, he is searching for an alternative location in the dale, where he has lived for 15 years.

The Darlington overseas business developer is considering acquiring part of the Weardale Steel plant, in Wolsingham. The 140-year-old steelworks went into administration in October last year.

The closure followed a disastrous takeover by Eastwood Industries, of the Midlands, which led to 85 workers being made redundant.

It was later bought by Anglo-Swedish, which only occupies part of the site and has employed 35 people.

Mr Simmons would need to spend about £80,000 to refurbish one of the units and create a separate entrance to set up the plant.

He said: "I haven't given up completely on the Eastgate site, which was my preferred choice because I want to provide manufacturing jobs in Upper Weardale.

"But I'm considering the Wolsingham site, which would still create jobs for the Dale."

Mr Simmons said he was frustrated with LaFarge and regional development agency One NorthEast's handling of his proposals.

He said he was offered a five-year lease but that would not have allowed him time to break even and would only be a short-term solution to unemployment in the dis-trict.