Tory candidate for Cramlington and Killingworth admits party 'hasn't covered itself in glory'

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-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

The Conservative candidate for the new Cramlington and Killingworth seat has conceded that his party hasn't "covered itself in glory" in recent years.

However, former Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy maintains that he can win the seat - and insists the Tories are the best option for the country. Making his pitch to voters, Mr Levy pointed to the level of investment he had helped to bring into the area.

The former healthcare assistant also defended his decision to contest the Cramlington and Killingworth seat, rather than the Ashington and Blyth Seat. Mr Levy's wife, Maureen, is fighting for the latter after Boundary Commission review saw the abolition of the Blyth Valley and Wansbeck constituencies.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Levy said: "I admit we haven't covered ourselves in glory as a said - but as Rishi Sunak said, we have a plan, the Labour Party don't have a plan and we're moving forward."

Mr Levy was involved in the attempts to build a gigafactory at Cambois north of Blyth. However, the project collapsed when Britishvolt - the company behind the scheme - collapsed into administration.

Subsequent attempts by Australian firm Recharge Industries to restart the project never materialised, and the site has now been purchased by American firm Blackstone with plans to create an AI data centre. Despite the significant investment in the county, the overall number of jobs will be far lower than the gigafactory, which would have produced electric car batteries.

Asked about this, Mr Levy said: "Disappointment is a very good word. I was disappointed it didn't turn out the way I hoped because a lot of energy went in to it, including from me.

"Britishvolt were asking for £15 million in taxpayers money. We were asking them for a proper business plan and the didn't come up with the goods - at least we tried."

"What is moving forward is JDR Cables which is coming out of the ground, and will bring high-skilled, well paid jobs to Blyth Estuary."

Asked about his achievements during his time in office, Mr Levy continued: "If I had to pick one, I am going to go for the Northumberland Line that's going to open up this summer.

"That's going to make a massive difference. It was closed during the Beeching cuts and for all our lives, that has been talked about and nothing has been done. We have pushed really hard to deliver it.

"We've got £50 million coming into Seaton Valley for a new, all singing, all dancing high school. We have built new schools in Cramlington and Blyth and we have the Blyth Energy Central Centre teaching youngsters on how to get involved in the renwable energy sector.

"All in all, there has been around £400 million invested in the area. You find me another MP who has brought £400 millon into Blyth Valley, and I will eat my hat."

Former Wansbeck MP and Labour candidate for Ashington and Blyth Ian Lavery has argued that despite the investment in the area, residents still feel poorer than they did in 2010.

Asked about his decision to run in Cramlington, Mr Levy continued: "Basically, it was a decision taken by the Electoral Commission and we have to decide where we want to stand.

"Cramlington and Killingworth has about two thirds of my former constituency. People say I've turned my back on Blyth, but if I had gone the other way, I would have turned my back on the other two thirds - you can't win."

Mr Levy is up against Newcastle city councillor Thom Campion of the Liberal Democrats and Emma Foody for the Labour and Co-operative Party. Ian Jones is the Green Party candidate, while Calum MacGregor is contesting the seat for Reform UK and Mathew Wilkinson for the Social Democratic Party.

Northumberland county councillor Scott Lee is also running as an Independent. According to Britain Elects and the New Stateman's poll tracker, the latest figures put Labour well ahead on 54.7%, with the Conservatives on just 28.1%