A senior Labour politician has confirmed the party will 'build on the successes' of the Treasury's Darlington headquarters if they win power later this week.

Darren Jones, Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, spoke exclusively to The Northern Echo about the party's plan to continue work at the Darlington Economic Campus, the current government's flagship levelling up site. 

The hub - which “firmly cemented” the town as a central Government location when it was established in August 2021 - will allow for key decisions to continue to be made in the region.

During a visit to car parts maker Nifco’s factory in Stockton last week, the former Bristol North West MP said senior figures will continue to be based in the town should Labour win the upcoming General Election on July 4.  

Nifco managing director James Casey with Labour’s shadow Treasury chief Darren Jones and candidate for Stockton West Joe Dancey. Nifco managing director James Casey with Labour’s shadow Treasury chief Darren Jones and candidate for Stockton West Joe Dancey. (Image: THE NORTHERN ECHO)

He told The Echo: “We think the Economic Campus has been a success and there was cross-party support for it. 

“There are very senior treasury civil servants who are based out of Darlington and if I end up being a treasury minister the week after next I’ll be expected to come up here a bit to do some of my work. 

“The Treasury now is very good at engaging the officials here in Darlington in the conversations we have in London in the normal way now and we are going to continue with that.”

'We should have officials across the country'

The Government campus is currently based on Feethams House and Bishopsgate House, and is home to more than 800 civil servants across eight departments. 

These include His Majesty’s Treasury, the Department for Education, and the Department for Business and Trade, for whom Darlington is their second headquarters.

The Darlington Economic Campus is home to civil service jobs which have been relocated from London. The Darlington Economic Campus is home to civil service jobs which have been relocated from London. (Image: Newsquest)

Last year, details for a new building on Brunswick Street were unveiled, with the £118m plans set to take over the former car park next to the Darlington East End club.

This would boost the total number of civil servants in the town to more than 2,300. 

The Government confirmed it had purchased the permanent site of the Darlington Economic Campus (DEC) on Brunswick Street on September 26.

Mr Jones said: “I think we will need to look at where the plans have got to with that as we have not been privy to the details so it will be one of the things on the agenda to look at. 

“But as I say we have supported whether it is the Economic Campus here in Darlington or the Environment Agency in my neck of the woods, in Bristol, or the ONS in Cardiff. 

“The principle that we should have officials across the country and not just in Westminster is something that we agree with.” 

Mr Jones also addressed concerns about whether the critical decisions will still be made at the site under a potential Labour Government.

“The second permanent secretary is permanently based here so yes,” he said. “If it was a campus that had non decision makers in it, then you’d be right to worry about that. 

“But it is clear that we have got very senior people here based in Darlington and that will continue.” 

He also touched on criticisms over whether the campus has taken priority over smaller scale issues across Teesside. 

He said: “Levelling up isn’t just about the placing of a government building, it is much broader than that. Joe Dancey will have very clear views about whether levelling up has been delivered or not for people here in Stockton. 

“If people are saying - well hang on a second - we have got a government office but the quality of life or the local economy hasn’t improved, then they would be right to point that out as a sign of failure from the Conservatives.” 

This comes just days after new analysis revealed the region is missing out on infrastructure investment under the Tories in a massive blow to the levelling up agenda. 

Northern leaders said levelling up has been “nowhere near enough” after documents from the Department for Levelling Up showed the average planned investment per head next year for the North East was just £1,245, compared to £2,100 in London and the South. 

Mr Jones visited the Nifco site alongside Stockton West Labour candidate Joe Dancey, where they spoke with managing director Jim Casey and general manager for manufacturing and logistics Paul Burniston about the challenges facing industries across the North East.

Joe DanceyJoe Dancey (Image: THE LABOUR PARTY)

Nifco remains one of the region's most successful businesses, having first been established as Elta Plastics Ltd on Yarm Road in 1967. 

Mr Jones and Mr Dancey joined members of the team at the factory on Durham Lane to talk about issues facing businesses that are too big to be small and medium-sized firms - but too small to be major corporations. 

Speaking on levelling up, Mr Dancey told The Echo: “Levelling up was touted as transforming the North East of England and changing the differential. And yet five years on, the North East and Teesside has not. That has not been delivered sadly. 

“And it will be for a Labour government and Labour MPs like me - if I am elected - to deliver real levelling up rather than talking about individual buildings or those kind of projects.”

Peter Gibson, Conservative candidate for Darlington, said Labour's remarks would be "a relief to the many residents."

He noted how residents were "rightly outraged" when leader Keir Starmer appeared to disapprove of the proposals for the Darlington Economic Campus in Parliament back in 2021, when he reportedly branded it as "giving up". 

Mr Gibson continued: "The Darlington Economic Campus is a flagship levelling up initiative which has already delivered 750 jobs and with a further 1,000 to go. It would not be here were it not for my work along with Ben Houchen pushing every step of the way to see it delivered."

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Lola McEvoy, Labour candidate for Darlington at the General Election, said: "Labour and I are committed to keeping the Treasury jobs in Darlington - we want more jobs in our town, not less.

"Labour's Industrial Strategy signals clearly that we want to spread money and power around the country more fairly than it is presently.

"Furthermore, our drive for green growth through policies like Great British Energy will ensure everyone in Darlington has the opportunity to get good, fairly paid jobs and a brighter future."