A global Hitachi leader has made an urgent plea for Government action to secure the future of the Newton Aycliffe factory and the hundreds of jobs it supports.

In a rare intervention, Alistair Dormer, Hitachi’s executive vice president energy and mobility, has called on any incoming administration after the General Election to act on day one of coming into power.

He said this would be a “powerful signal” that the government was serious about the North East, manufacturing, jobs – and its relationships with Japan.(Image: Newsquest)

Mr Dormer spoke as the livelihoods of hundreds of people at the plant hang in the balance because of a production gap which leaves the site’s future uncertain.

And he emphasised the bright future for the plant if the immediate hurdle is overcome.

Speaking exclusively to The Northern Echo Mr Dormer, who was instrumental in bringing Hitachi to Newton Aycliffe, spoke of his frustration at the government after years of fruitless talks.(Image: Newsquest)

He said: “We need decisions. We need action. It's been pretty frustrating for the last two and a half years of presenting so many different options to the Government and, unfortunately, not getting a decision.

“We’ve had lots of words, which is very nice, but we need action.

“Now that we've got an election and, thanks of course to The Northern Echo and others who have raised the profile of the issue with the candidates, the important thing is that when the next government starts - whichever colour or shape it is - this is one of the things they deal with as soon as possible.”Avanti launches new Hitachi-built Evero fleet Avanti launches new Hitachi-built Evero fleet (Image: Avanit West Coast)

The factory which opened in 2015, keeps 750 people in work on-site, alongside another 1,400 jobs indirectly.

It is making its final trains for Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway.

Ministers told Hitachi they had no plans to order more trains to run on the West Coast mainline, which the firm saw as the only viable way to plug the production gap.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves during visit to Hitachi in AprilShadow chancellor Rachel Reeves during visit to Hitachi in April (Image: Newsquest)

But Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, has reaffirmed a pledge, made during a visit to the plant in April, to exercise the option to bring forward additional trains on the Avanti West Coast contract.

Speaking to The Northern Echo last week, she said: "Labour have committed [and] I have committed to varying those contracts to bring forward work and bring out new procurement that Hitachi can bid for and I'm confident and they're confident that they can win."

Mr Dormer, who praised the Northern Echo for its campaign to save the plant and for making it top of its election manifesto for the North East, said he was encouraged by Ms Reeves' renewed commitment to sign off the Avanti West Coast deal.

He added: “Day one would be my request. Let’s get this solved. It’s not difficult.(Image: Northern Echo)

“As Rachel Reeves said there is a variation there that can be done.

“We’d like that contract to be done – it will be a strong signal that this is a new start for the country. And that the North East is important, as well as manufacturing jobs, transport and inward investment – and relationships with Japan.

“All of these are such powerful messages that the new administration can send straight away.”

He added: “We live in strange times with different trade wars going on between China and the US and Europe. Having a capability here in the UK is really important.

“So protecting those jobs - and making sure that that every pound that is spent in this factory flows down into the supply chain is important.

“It flows down into the supply chain which is really hurting, as well. We are aware our supply chain is hurting.

“Unfortunately we've got some small suppliers that are basically going bust because work is dried up and the uncertainty of it.(Image: Northern Echo)

“So we need that certainty. If we get it, I’m convinced there’s a really bright future.”

“We’re frustrated, but we cannot give up. Having an election now, I think, is good.”

“I am really hoping that we turn a page on this on day one of a new government and we get that action.”

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Going forward, he added, the country desperately needs an industrial strategy in order for organisations like Hitachi to make massive inward investment decisions.

“We need to see what that future looks like, what contracts and what projects are out there, how that's going to be procured and what the government's attitude, I guess, or valuation of local employment and manufacturing is.

“It needs a long-term vision. Britain needs a long-term industrial strategy to attract inward investment and restore confidence. That to me, is really important.”