The Tees mayor has announced he’s demolishing the Redcar Blast furnace, even though he was presented a proposal to keep the heart of the furnace, that experts from the Save Our Steel heritage task group say would be cost virtually no more than to demolish, would need only 1/1000th of the site of Tees Works and wouldn’t affect jobs or development. He is simply doing what Tories always do, ripping the heart out of communities.
Houchen is making a mistake,” said Jessie Joe. “The Conservatives ripped the heart out of Teesside when they took away large scale steel-making and this will be finishing the job. The furnace means a lot to generations of people who worked in the industry. It is a still important icon of who we are and what we built. It won’t be going down without a fight.
But it is not just nostalgia. Heritage icons like the blast furnace can play a huge part in economic regeneration. There are countless examples across the globe like the Angel of the North and the Landschaftpark in Germany where rather than being discarded, industrial history has preserved cultural identity and led to tourist interest and complemented existing industries.
The removal of the blast furnace is based on a deeply flawed report, designed to build a case for demolition. It is a short-sighted plan based on a report that bears no resemblance to reality. The report he commissioned was based on retaining huge amounts of old structures and building a visitor centre – but no one has asked for that, people have simply been asking to keep the furnance and keep the heart of Teesside’s industrial heritage.
It proves Ben Houchen does not understand how to build a varied and inclusive economy for the Tees Valley. This area is desperate for jobs we need a diversity of jobs, something which tourism and heritage alongside an industrial strategy can bring, something which I can bring.”