The Conservative Party Chairman and a North East MP were both at a Hartlepool hospital today where they spoke on Red Wall votes and Levelling Up plans.

Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands and Jill Mortimer, MP for Hartlepool, were both attending Hartlepool Hospital on Thursday (April 13) as part of the Conservatives' local election trail.

Speaking to the Echo's reporter, the two discussed how the party would keep hold of Red Wall seats in the North East, and pointed to the Conservatives taking Hartlepool in 2020.

Adding to this, the pair also discussed how government had been working towards levelling up the North East, particularly through a focus on nuclear power in Hartlepool.

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Speaking on this, Greg Hands said: "I'm upbeat about our prospects for the Red Wall.

"I think the local elections aren't going to be easy for the Conservatives, local elections are always on a four-year cycle, and this is the set of elections, the biggest set of elections, the predominantly English district councils where there are a lot of Conservative councillors up for re-election.

"Labour did particularly badly in 2019 [with] the last year of Jeremy Corbyn, so Labour need to show a lot of progress in these elections.

"That's what these elections are all about."

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He said as part of the campaign trail on Thursday, he had visited Darlington, Redcar and Cleveland, and Hartlepool.

Meanwhile, he said he believes Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is quite popular in traditional Red Wall constituencies.

He said he believes this is because the Government are delivering on tackling inflation, growing the economy, cutting debt, cutting hospital waiting lists, and stopping illegal migration.

Speaking on the General Election next year, he said the Party "will have to see closer to the time," and said government were instead focusing on getting the country in "better shape" and recovering from the impact the war in Ukraine has had on the economy.

Jill Mortimer, elected as Hartlepool MP in 2021, said she was elected on a platform of positive change and added the town is now beginning to see this change.

She cited the £25 million awarded to Hartlepool from the Towns Fund to revitalise the town centre, the £16.5 million award from the Levelling Up Fund which will be used for a production village.

Adding to this, she said they were attempting to replace the Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, which was due to be decommissioned in March 2024, with an AMR reactor.

Ms Mortimer said this would provide more jobs, skills and business to the town, and "decarbonise the Tees Valley."

She added the project is currently in talks and, if greenlit, could be completed by 2030.

She said: "It's been scarce two years I've been here, but already in the town we are seeing that change actually being delivered.

"We've had £25 million in the Town Fund to regenerate the town centre, we've had £16.5 million from the Levelling Up Fund, which will be invested into our production village to bring new high-skilled interesting jobs.

"We're fighting for an AMR reactor to replace our reactor that no one had done anything about.

"It's positive change, bring jobs and investment to the town, and I think that's what people recognise and that's why people will stay with us."

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She also pointed towards Hartlepool's new film and TV studio in partnership with The Northern School of Art as an example of levelling up the town.

"People joke about it, but we will be 'Hartlewood.' That's what we are trying to do," she added.

Both pointed towards support for nuclear and offshore wind farm projects as examples of levelling up and efforts to turn Hartlepool "low carbon."