A senior Labour MP has backed a campaign by The Northern Echo to keep the region’s Hitachi factory on track and operational after serious concerns have been raised about its future.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said he “100% supports” the Echo’s campaign to keep the Newton Aycliffe factory, which employs 750 people, open and operational after bosses failed to reach an agreement to keep their order books full.

The factory, which first opened its doors in 2015 after lengthy campaigning by the Echo and former Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson is now making its final trains for Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway after government talks did “not result in a positive resolution”.

The Northern Echo: Wes Streeting in Hartlepool joined by Labour's Tees Valley Mayor candidate Chris McEwan.Wes Streeting in Hartlepool joined by Labour's Tees Valley Mayor candidate Chris McEwan. (Image: LABOUR NORTH)

Speaking as Labour launches their local elections campaign in Hartlepool today (March 28), Mr Streeting said the government are “missing in action” as the future of the site hangs in the balance.

He said: “I 100% support this campaign by The Northern Echo. What is so infuriating is that Phil Wilson, Sedgefield’s former Labour MP, one of his proudest achievements was securing those jobs and investments at Hitachi.

“And now, Alan Strickland is also campaigning hard to retain it.”

He added: “But, where is the government? They are completely missing in action. These are good jobs from a good employer that is part of the industrial future here.

“This is where you need governments to be more hands-on to take more of an active role because when you work in partnership with business you can unlock more investment and jobs.

 “If a business senses the government is disinterested or is looking elsewhere then they are going to look elsewhere too – and that’s what Hitachi is doing.

“I hope that we can persuade Hitachi not to give up on these jobs and that investment. There is a general election around the corner and there is a Labour government willing to be an active partner waiting in the wings should people vote for us.

“Let’s hope we can persuade Hitachi to stick with us because we have seen major job losses before in the region. It’s not just a waste of future potential, it’s 750 families who could be detrimentally affected.

The Northern Echo: Wes Streeting campaigning in Hartlepool.Wes Streeting campaigning in Hartlepool. (Image: LABOUR NORTH)

“We cannot afford to lose good jobs in the region – and that is why we fully support the Echo’s campaign.”

This support comes on the same day that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has thrown his support behind the campaign.

Sir Kier said: “We have said one of the things we would do if elected is work with Hitachi. We would roll our sleeves up and make sure these issues are overcome.

“In the longer term, I would want a much more integrated approach to transport and rail.”


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Politicians from around the North East have also expressed their support in keeping Hitachi on track.

They include Durham County Council Leader Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Darlington Borough Council Leader Cllr Stephen Harker as well as MPs Alex Cunningham, Andy McDonald and Peter Gibson.

Conservative MP Paul Howell has also vowed to do “everything possible” to keep Hitachi, which is in his constituency, going and said the government is doing “all it can”.