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Schoolboy organises Christmas party for steelworkers' children

Ben Hebden. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A schoolboy has taken it upon himself to arrange a special Christmas Party for the children of the now redundant SSI steelworkers from Redcar.

9-year-old Ben Hebden goes to Westgarth Primary School in Marske.

He's had more than 500 likes on the facebook page he's set up and is fundraising to host the party for the steelworkers and their families.

Nine year old Ben Hebden heard about the job losses at the SSI steel plant and felt he had to do something about it.

It made me feel a bit devastated for them because usually they might have been thinking we're going to get you this, we're going to get you that - that'll be nice for everyone and hopefully I'l get this.

But now they've lost all their money they probably wont be able to afford all they wanted.

– Ben Hebden

With the help of other pupils he's set up a Kids Committee to arrange the event - raising more than £500 already the food, entertainment and venue already booked.

They have enlisted the help of a local party planner called Silly Steve who will DJ and organise other activities.

His teachers are very proud of Ben's achievements.

I think it's absolutely fantastic really on what's a sad circumstance and that a boy in year five has taken it upon himself to see the sadness in that and try to do something good for it.

It's a wonderful thing - we're very proud of him.

– Matthew Carlton, Westgate Primary School


Former SSI boss 'utterly frustrated' by lack of communication from Thailand

The former head of SSI in Redcar has admitted that there was a lack of communication from the company's Thai owners when the plant was in trouble.

Cornelius Louwrens, who no longer works for the company, spoke of his sadness at the closure and said the communication issues had been "utterly frustrating."

Teesside politicians insist the former SSI steelworks could still be salvaged

A delegation of MPs and councillors, who are fighting to save the SSI plant, have attended crisis talks about the future of the struggling industry.

A steel summit was held in Rotherham where ministers and politicians discussed what could be done to prevent further closures.

But is it too little, too late for Redcar? Jonny Blair reports:


Practical action needed at steel summit , says union

The steelworkers’ union Community, will be representing thousands of steelworkers and contractors at the government’s steel summit in Rotherham tomorrow. They say the government must offer more support for the industry.

The summit was called following a parliamentary debate on the steel industry in Parliament last month and comes just a day after the end of coke production at the former SSI site in Redcar signalled the end of 170 years of iron and steelmaking on Teesside.

The government scandalously missed opportunities to intervene and protect the industrial assets in Redcar.

The summit must not be a talking shop. There is a case for urgent, short-term action to help create a level-playing field for UK steel producers. Other European countries offer support for short-time working to help retain or upskill steelworkers ready for when the market recovers.

Community will be a responsible partner in this process. However, the summit must offer more than warm words. Urgent, practical support is needed."

– Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community

What the politicians are saying about Redcar

Paul Brand, ITV Political Correspondent

Credit: PA

Five things politicians have told ITV News Tyne Tees about Redcar steel plant today:

  • The fund for retraining workers is £50m, not £80m - the government now admits some of the original sum was for redundancy payments.
  • The government has promised training funds won't be frittered away on basic courses, like CV-writing, but will go towards serious retraining.
  • There are still businesses expressing an interest in bidding for the plant - but the government says the bidders won't stump up the cash to keep the coke ovens going, so the bids aren't realistic.
  • Off camera, there was a tense confrontation between Business Minister Anna Soubry and local MPs Anna Turley and Tom Blenkinsop late last night, as they cornered here in parliament and begged her for last-minute action.
  • The government will consider applying for emergency funds to support Teesside through this crisis from an EU pot called the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

Government insists no SSI worker 'will be left behind'

The Government has insisted "no worker will be left behind" following the closure of Redcar's steel plant on Teesside, amid continuing concerns over the support available to staff.

Business Minister Anna Soubry told the Commons that colleges in the area will be able to claim full funding for education offered to people employed at the plant in 2015, or those made redundant in the supply chain.

Responding to a question from Labour's Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland), Ms Soubry said around 1,500 people attended a jobs fair in the area with 50 employers offering 1,000 jobs. She assured the Commons 'no worker will be left behind.'

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