Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 11:15 UK

Labour seats fall after Corus mothballing

Vera Baird was beaten by the Lib Dems' Ian Swales

Two Labour seats have fallen in the party's Teesside heartland following criticism of the government over the mothballing of Redcar's steelworks.

Vera Baird lost her Redcar seat to the Liberal Democrats while Dari Taylor was beaten by the Conservatives in Stockton South.

Both MPs had campaigned to save the town's Corus plant which has been mothballed with 1,600 job losses.

After her defeat, Vera Baird pledged that Labour would "return to Redcar".

Ms Taylor, who lost after a recount, said: "Can I say to all candidates it's been a great pleasure competing with you.

"Of course I would have loved to have come first but of course that's democracy, and she always wins."

Gordon Brown's government pledged £60m to help Teesside recover from the mothballing, but critics argued the money would have been better spent keeping the steelworks open.

James Wharton, the new MP for Stockton South, said: "We fought to represent local people and we've been here all year round working hard for local people, not just turning up at election time."

Corus plant at Redcar
The mothballing of the Redcar site began in February

Elsewhere, Labour retained control of Stockton North, where deselected Labour MP Frank Cook stood as an independent but lost his deposit.

It also retained Middlesbrough and Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, where 29-year-old Tom Blenkinsop becomes one of the UK's youngest MPs.

He paid tribute to his predecessor Ashok Kumar, who died in March.

"This election was not about an individual or self promotion," he said. "It was about following and fighting to maintain Ashok's legacy.

"And it's very humbling to see the hopes, wishes and prayers marked on the ballot papers of my fellow constituents who I grew up with. This victory is Ashok's victory".

In Hartlepool, where Schools Minister Iain Wright held on to his seat, the Tories beat the Liberal Democrats into second place with a 12.3% swing.



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