THERE have been so many bad news stories relating to steelmaking in the North-East in the last few years that a heightened sense of concern was inevitable at the weekend when reports emerged suggesting administrators are working on contingency plans for the closure of the British Steel plants at Lackenby and Skinningrove.

There have been discussions about what the closure of the plants, which employ around 700 people, would entail. However, a meeting between Business Secretary Greg Clark, British Steel representatives, trade unions and politicians has been told the talks were merely procedural.

Instead of planning for liquidation, administrators are increasingly confident a deal to rescue British Steel and safeguard the future of both North-East plants could be imminent.

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, has revealed a number of bidders have visited Teesside to conduct due diligence, and confirmed that Boris Johnson will honour an existing indemnity enabling British Steel to operate as normal if he is elected Prime Minister.

Transport for London is delaying a tender for steel for new rail tracks in order to give British Steel an opportunity to bid for the contract, which is another welcome move.

Clearly, there are some significant obstacles to overcome. But there is a recognition British Steel has to be given every opportunity to survive, and a willingness to agree to moves increasing the likelihood of a takeover. Let us hope the administrators’ optimism is justified.