Labour candidate for Blyth and Ashington Ian Lavery says 'green industrial revolution' can bring jobs to the area

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The former Wansbeck MP and Labour’s candidate for the new Ashington and Blyth Constiuency has questioned the Conservatives’ record in south east Northumberland.

Ian Lavery, who has been an MP since 2010, argued that people felt less well-off in the area than they did when he first came into parliament, despite the Tory’s levelling up agenda that has seen significant investment, particularly in Blyth.

Ashington and Blyth are two of the most deprived towns in the country according to the 2021 census, but levelling up funding has seen £90m awarded to Blyth, while Ashington was granted £30m for a “long overdue” renovation of the town centre.

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Both towns are also set to benefit from the Northumberland Line, connecting the area to Newcastle by rail for the first time since the 1960s.

Ian Lavery represented the Wensbeck constituency from 2010 until the boundaries were redrawn. (Photo by Ian Lavery)Ian Lavery represented the Wensbeck constituency from 2010 until the boundaries were redrawn. (Photo by Ian Lavery)
Ian Lavery represented the Wensbeck constituency from 2010 until the boundaries were redrawn. (Photo by Ian Lavery)

Mr Lavery said: “If you have a look at how much money the Tories have taken out of local government, and how much they have put in in these smaller projects, you will see how much they have taken out of communities here.

“Do people feel better off? There is not one person. No family feels better off since 2010. People feel worse off than they did.

“We have one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country here. The figures for Northumberland are skewed because of areas like Ponteland and Morpeth.

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“We needed the Britishvolt type of company, we need lots of jobs. When you think of south east Northumberland you think of coal, but the green industrial revolution is very exciting and could create hundreds of jobs here.”

It will also be the first time Mr Lavery is running to represent the people of Blyth following the Boundary Commission review. Mr Lavery spoke of the similarities between Blyth and Ashington, and his friendship with long-serving former Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell.

He said: “I think Blyth Valley was a constituency Wansbeck had a lot in common with. The former MP, Ronnie Campbell, was a big friend of mine.

“We were very similar, from the left of the party and former miners. I will always look after my constituents.

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“I am not a serial rebel but if there was an issue that dramatically impacted my constituents, my residents come first.”

Asked about his achievements during his time in office, Mr Lavery continued: “My biggest achievements for the area are things I cannot discuss. They are dealing with issues that people bring to me, people that think their world is at an end and they need their MP to help them.

“Despite the fact I am in London a lot, the bread and butter of the job is looking after people who have got issues.”

Mr Lavery also criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s repeated attack about Labour’s tax plans costing households, which he claimed came from “independent Treasury officials,” something the Treasury’s top civil servant has denied.

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Mr Lavery said: “People are losing trust in politicians. If we have got the leader of the country saying things like this, where do we end up as a nation?

“What we have got to do as the Labour Party try to deliver on what is in the manifesto. We cannot accept the lies that the government has told through Johnson and Truss. Where is the respect?”

Mr Lavery’s opponents for the seat are Conservative Maureen Levy, the Green Party’s Steve Leyland, Mark Peart for Reform UK, and Lib Dem Stephen Psallidas.