Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer returns to Hartlepool and says party need to rebuild voters' trust
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer enjoyed a pint of Hartlepool beer in the sun during a tour of the town’s Camerons brewery as the by-election race hots up.
Sir Keir visited the town to support Labour candidate Dr Paul Williams and unveiled a plan for “jobs, jobs, jobs” to create 400,000 low carbon work opportunities nationwide including Hartlepool.
He also admitted he has to rebuild trust among voters and “fight for every vote” as polls and bookmakers put the Tories ahead of Labour despite Hartlepool being red since 1964.
Sir Keir said: “We have to rebuild trust, we have to reconnect and we have to make it absolutely clear that the Labour party has changed and it’s under new leadership.
"We’ve got an excellent candidate. Dr Paul Williams has been working in Hartlepool hospital on the front line during the pandemic treating people who have got Covid.
"We’re fighting for every vote. But what we have come with is a positive plan for long term secure jobs for Hartlepool for the future.”
It was the Labour leader’s second visit to Hartlepool after he also toured Hartlepool Power Station last month.
He said the most important issue for local people is jobs and Labour has a plan for a £30bn green economic recovery that would support manufacturing jobs including in the steel, offshore wind, automotive and aerospace industries.
Sir Keir also heard about the challenges faced by Camerons brewery during the pandemic when at one point 610 people out of 700-strong workforce was furloughed.
It has also had to take out £5m in emergency government loans but wants the time to pay that back extended from three to 10 years.
Sir Keir said Camerons had done an incredible job and said there must be no more lockdowns to allow pubs and the hospitality industry to get back on its feet.
He added: “I was really struck by their (Camerons) ambition and optimism for the future.
"The worst thing for Camerons here in Hartlepool or any others involved in hospitality would be to go into further restrictions and further lockdown.”
Sir Keir pulled a pint of Strongarm and hailed its “fantastic colour”.
Camerons brewery managing director Chris Soley said he appreciated the chance to raise pressing issues with the Labour leader and Dr Williams.
They had to halt their apprenticeship scheme, make cuts in its estate side of the business and did not receive a rates reduction like pubs did.
Mr Soley said: “It’s been quite a challenge for our sector over the last 12 months.
"To have a senior politician come round and see the challenges that we’ve been facing but equally the opportunity that lies ahead of us and to talk about what that looks like for the future of jobs in the town has been really good.”
He said additional government support would allow the business to get back on its feet and invest in jobs and expand.
The by-election takes place on Thursday, May 6, following Labour MP Mike Hill’s sudden resignation in March.
He retained his seat at the 2019 General Election with a 3,595 majority.