War of words in by-election campaign

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Campaigning in the Corby and East Northants by-election is hotting up.

Conservative candidate Christine Emmett and Minister for Skills Matt Hancock visited Nital Training, at Corby Business Park, today (Wednesday, October 24) to present apprentice Abby Smith with her Advanced Apprentice Certificate in Business Administration and an IOSH certificate. They then went on to Corby Enterprise Centre to talk to Local Enterprise Partnership board members.

Mr Hancock said: “As a local businesswoman herself, Christine understands what it takes for a company to start up and to create jobs. I know she will work tirelessly to bring new jobs and business investment to Corby and East Northamptonshire.”

The argument about the fate of Kettering General Hospital and Labour candidate Andy Sawford’s Save Our Hospital campaign rumbled on with Christine Emmett writing Mr Sawford a letter about his comments regarding its future. She said: “Clearly the future of any hospital is of immediate concern to all local residents. It is important that the right decision is reached and clinicians are those best placed to prepare models for public consultation. The material that your campaign has been circulating is deeply misguided, factually incorrect and considered by most to be nothing short of scaremongering.”

Christine Emmett also revealed her support for plans to develop the Skew Bridge site near Rushden, which could create 2,000 jobs but which Labour is opposed to. She said: “I was a buyer for Marks and Spencer and worked on many of their new stores. I understand how the introduction of high quality retail and leisure outlets boosts the whole local economy.

“The proposed new leisure retail park at Skew Bridge will provide new local employment, high quality retail stores such as John Lewis or Marks and Spencer and is ideally positioned to bring in trade from miles around.

“Local High Streets need not worry as there is always space for good local stores to complement the major outlets. “It is a mystery to me why Labour would fight such a good idea, which provides new jobs, high quality shopping and leisure experience and brings in trade to the surrounding region.”

Speaking during a visit by former Cabinet Minister Tessa Jowell MP to the town, yesterday (Tuesday, October 23), Andy Sawford said: “Rather than standing up for local people and fighting to protect our local services, the Tories are shamelessly pretending there is no chance that our A&E, maternity, children’s and acute services could be downgraded.

“There is a clear choice in this by-election. I will fight for jobs and services and campaign to save Kettering General Hospital. I’ll stand up for ordinary families whose budgets are being squeezed tighter and tighter. And I’ll work to support local companies who are battling to keep their heads above water but can’t get the help they need from the banks while David Cameron and George Osborne cut taxes for multi-millionaires and the super-rich.”

UKIP’s candidate Margot Parker is delighted at the results of a poll published earlier in the week by Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft, which shows that UKIP have tripled their vote since the beginning of the Corby campaign in August, cementing their position as the third party in front of the Lib Dems, whose share of the vote has fallen to a third of what it was in 2010.

Labour is shown to be ahead of the Conservatives by 22 per cent, an increase of seven per cent since August. Fifteen per cent of those who claim to still support the Conservatives said they are thinking about changing their minds between now and the election with 22 per cent of those saying they are considering voting for UKIP.

Margot Parker said: “It is great to see that such positive poll results but I can’t say I’m surprised. The response on the doorstep has been terrific.”