WE hear many questions from people asking what levelling up is – well it is whatever it matters to you.

The Levelling Up agenda starts with the Prime Minister’s words that it’s the levelling up of opportunity. This for me is a key message because opportunity can feed aspiration and aspiration is what drives a better future for people.

But opportunity takes many forms, ranging from being safe in your local area to having career choices.

Recently, in the north of my Sedgefield constituency at Wingate, we saw the atrocious events at an ex-Marine’s house, where his car and caravan were torched because he had spoken out about local anti-social behaviour.

The response from people in support of him was truly fantastic but levelling up here is about the community no longer being intimidated by those that he spoke about and I stand with Sean Ivey, the police, the council and the local people in working to improve their lot.

When you think about careers, I see the announcements around the creation of a Government economic campus in Darlington and a freeport in Teesside as transformational for the region. They not only provide direct job and career opportunities, but they spin out into so many support agencies that will also create opportunities.

These are two fantastic opportunities that will deliver fantastic, well paid career opportunities for many people in our region.

I found it absolutely incredible that the leader of the Labour Party thought this was not levelling up but rather it was giving up! It is just as bizarre that not one local Labour politician has stood up and said that he is wrong.

But the story gets worse. In the last full Darlington council meeting, an opposition councillor had the temerity to claim the Treasury jobs coming to Darlington were not what we needed, they were too good, and our people needed jobs they could do!

This is absolutely condescending to the people of the North-East! Better jobs deliver aspiration and opportunity within our patch and put a brake on the brain drain of our youngsters heading to cities. They also create a cascade of other jobs that are the stepping stones for many. They can be in support areas like the accountancy firms that we hear are looking to relocate; they could be for the person who starts their own sandwich business to supply them, or they could be for established businesses in everything from office services to childcare.

The jobs also massively enhance the evaluations of expenditure on infrastructure like roads, rail and broadband and can only help initiatives like Ferryhill railway station or the Leamside line. Opportunities like these are gold dust and need to be leveraged to the maximum by all politicians, but sadly some are too interested in scoring points to support obviously good things.

It is only the Conservative Party in the North-East that has ambition for people and the more Conservative politicians we get in our patch, the easier it will be to deliver levelling up in whatever form people need it.

L Paul Howell is the Conservative MP for Sedgefield