A Darlington Labour MP-hopeful has hit out at council inaction on paying ‘real living wage’ as she calls for a general election.

Labour MP-hopeful Lola McEvoy has the backing of unions, national campaigners and a number of key Darlington activists.

She believes that a real living wage is key to ‘unlocking’ the cost-of-living crisis allowing people to “live, not just exist.”

The candidate hopeful also adds to calls for a general election ahead of the wealthiest MP in parliament, Rishi Sunak, who became the new Prime Minister today (Monday, October 24).

The Northern Echo: Lola McEvoy hopes to become Labour MP for DarlingtonLola McEvoy hopes to become Labour MP for Darlington (Image: Katy Davies PR)

Read more: Full list of North East MPs respond as Rishi Sunak becomes Prime Minister

 “The lack of Living Wage employers in Darlington demonstrates the stark contrast between Labour and Conservative priorities. The difference has never been clearer,” said the Labour MP hopeful.

“Neither Darlington Borough Council nor Tees Valley Combined Authority or the Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership in Teesside is signed up with the Living Wage Foundation – the Teesside Tories must step up or follow their Liz Truss and step down, the writing is on the red wall.”

“These local government institutions control budgets of millions of pounds of Darlington tax-payers’ money and they can’t even guarantee their own cleaners a wage that meets living costs.  

 “The Teesside Tories inertia for working people in Darlington is demonstrated perfectly by their inaction on the real Living Wage.

"They talk about growing the pie – but there are plenty of easy ways to make a better go further right now. The fact that not a single local authority that controls Darlington’s public purse is signed up as real Living Wage employer shows the public clearly that their waffle about levelling up is just more empty promises.

“If I’m selected as the candidate to win Darlington back for Labour, I’ll champion Living Wage procurement commitments from the Council and the Tees Valley mayor. That means that all the social care workers, Dolphin centre staff and everyone else whose wages are paid by Darlington’s public purse will be guaranteed a wage that meets the cost of living.” 

Peter Gibson, Conservative MP for Darlington said: “Over the past two and a half years I have worked tirelessly to bring new job opportunities to Darlington, most clearly demonstrated by the arrival of the Darlington Economic Campus and the amazing opportunities for people in our region.

"In addition I recently hosted a jobs and apprenticeship fair which featured over 700 job opportunities. I am proud of my record delivering for Darlington.

“I am informed that all TVCA employees are paid the real living wage or above. With respect to Darlington Borough Council the picture is much more complex.

"As your readers will appreciate the council must balance its obligations to council tax payers and keeping it as low as possible and securing value for money in the provision of its services.

“This strikes me as political opportunism by one of the failing Labour Party’s potential candidates.”

Elizabeth Davison, group director of operations for Darlington Borough Council, said: “Growing Darlington’s economy and bringing more sustainable and high-quality jobs to the borough remains a top priority for the council.

"We understand the struggles faced by both businesses and residents and are committed to providing support and advice at every opportunity.”

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