'The important things are people, jobs, houses' - what Hartlepool voters said about upcoming by-election

Hartlepool voters have mixed views on what issues – and party – they want their new member of parliament to represent following the sudden departure of Labour’s Mike Hill.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 7:00 am

The Mail spoke to residents out in the town centre 24 hours after it was announced that Mr Hill had resigned as Hartlepool’s MP ‘with immediate effect’.

Some people said they want to see the town stay as a Labour seat as it has been for more than 50 years.

But others believe Hartlepool needs to change to Conservative to make a difference in the town.

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Clockwise from top left: Barry Howard, husband and wife Ian and Kath Lowther, Ann Campbell and Barry Dignen give their views on the  forthcoming by-election after the sudden resignation of Labour's Mike Hill.
Clockwise from top left: Barry Howard, husband and wife Ian and Kath Lowther, Ann Campbell and Barry Dignen give their views on the forthcoming by-election after the sudden resignation of Labour's Mike Hill.

Hoping the town stays red was retired Barry Dignen, 70.

He said: “Labour’s the working man’s party and it always will be.

"Conservative? No. They’re all about business, money, profit. The important things are people, jobs, houses – enough houses for people to live in, not private.

"Also the health service which is the greatest thing we have ever created.”

Former Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

But husband and wife Ian and Kath Lowther believe it is time for change.

Kath, 71, said she was not sorry to see Mr Hill go, adding: "For over 50 years Hartlepool has been Labour. I think they are complacent and think they are always going to get in.”

Ian, 72, added: “I think the Labour stance at the moment is whatever the Conservatives do they just go against them regardless, not offer an alternative.

"We need to be a marginal town.”

He did not agree with people voting Labour out of tradition, saying: “You vote for policies not personalities.”

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Bus driver Barry Howard, 60, said he was “a Labour man” at heart but has not voted for them for many years.

He believes Hartlepool needs to become blue to bring about improvements for the town.

Barry, who works for Stagecoach, said: "I don’t have an opinion on why he (Mike Hill) has quit. I think this town would be better off with a Tory.

“If you’ve got a Tory government you’re always better off with a Tory MP.

“Labour only scraped in last time because you had the Tories and Brexit and one of them didn’t step aside.

"Whoever the next MP is we should get someone who just listens to the people’s views and acts on them.”

Ann Campbell, 65, from Owton Manor, said she did not hold a high opinion of politicians whatever party they belong to.

She said: “They’re all the same to me,” but added: “I’ve always been Labour.”

But she said she would like to see Hartlepool’s new MP work to improve facilities for children.

“I would like to see the Headland paddling pool upgraded and more for children because there’s nothing in Hartlepool for children whatsoever,” said Ann.

Hartlepool has been a Labour seat since Ted Leadbitter was elected in 1964.

At the last General Election in 2019 Mr Hill held onto the seat he first won in 2017 although his majority was more than halved.

Mr Hill has not commented on why he resigned and Labour has not yet announced their new candidate.

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