North East MEP Jude Kirton-Darling toured Cleveland Bridge UK as part of a fact-finding mission to learn more about its engineering triumphs, past and present.
The Labour politician, who is a member of the European Parliamentary International Trade Committee, requested the visit to the Darlington factory where she met with Managing Director, Chris Droogan.
Among the topics they discussed were the various possible implications surrounding Brexit and the general state of the region’s engineering and steel industry.
Jude, who grew up in Middlesbrough, is a passionate supporter of the region’s industry and was heavily involved in the Save our Steel campaign, which fought against the closure of Redcar steelworks.
She is an expert on international trade and, as part of her role as an MEP, has been involved in improving trading relationships with countries outside the EU.
During her visit, Jude learned about the many high-profile projects Cleveland Bridge has been involved in, including the major £1.5bn upgrade of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntington – including the fabrication and installation of a 650 metre viaduct bridge spanning the River Great Ouse.
She was also told about the company’s export successes, including Sri Lanka where the company recently supplied and built its 1,000th bridge. The contract is part of a major project designed to reconnect remote areas and provide better links to education, healthcare and jobs.
Chris Droogan said: “We were delighted to show Jude around our facility and explain just how the company is continually building and improving on its reputation for excellence and innovation.
“She is very interested in the engineering industry and it was great to hear her perspective as a politician who has considerable insight into trading arrangements both inside and outside the EU.”
Jude Darling-Kirton said “I enjoyed my visit to Cleveland Bridge and it was great to hear about their apprenticeships and how they have engaged their workforce through family days.
“I was particularly impressed with the scale of the operation on the factory floor and to see the variety of projects which Cleveland Bridge have been involved with across the world.
“Therefore, it was worrying to hear directly about the uncertainty created by Brexit for our local manufacturers and their workforces. The visit convinced me again of the crucial need for a comprehensive manufacturing agenda from the government to ensure the future of British manufacturing.”