Workington’s Conservative candidate has branded Labour’s steel recycling plant announcement as an “insult” to the town’s voters.

Mark Jenkinson, Tory candidate for Workington, has described the proposed plant, which Labour says will create 1,100 jobs, as a “hoodwink” manoeuvre from the party.

But Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, in a visit to the town on Saturday, described the plant as one of the “seeds of hope” in its plans for a green industrial revolution.

“This is an opportunity to rebalance investment in the regions. We have not had our fair share of investment in the north west and Cumbria.

“Cumbria as a whole was a proud industrial community. The decline, which started under a Conservative Government in the early 1980s, has been sped up somewhat in the last 10 years.”

Labour’s manifesto commits to creating three steel recycling plants, one being sited in Workington, which lost the last of its major stake in the steel industry in 2006.

250 jobs were lost that year when Workington’s Corus steel works closed.

Mr Jenkinson, who was a British Steel apprentice in Workington until the 2006 closure, questioned the feasibility of some of the details in Labour’s steel recycling plant plan.

“It certainly doesn’t sound like a realistic proposition,” he said.

“I think it’s an insult to voters, that they think they can hoodwink them like this.”

Mr Jenkinson first questioned whether it was realistic to make projections that 1,100 jobs would be created by the construction of a steel recycling plant in Workington.

The Celsa UK plant in Cardiff, a major steel recycling plant built on the same electric arc furnace technology Labour wants to see built in Workington, employs more than 500 people as well several hundred sub-contractors across south Wales.

The Cardiff plant also requires a lot of power to operate - about 40 per cent of the total energy used across the whole of Cardiff.

Mr Jenkinson says Workington is not set up to address that kind of power requirement.

“West Cumbria does not have a grid connection for that size of plant,” he said.

“There was nothing in the budget for the upgrading of the power lines required for a large-scale connection needed.”

But Mrs Long-Bailey, widely tipped as a potential future Labour leader, said the Workington plant was just one element of an entire revolution in industry and energy production set to take place, should a Labour Government be returned on Thursday.

“We’re excited to offer the seeds of hope through a green industrial revolution,” she said.

Mrs Long-Bailey outlined Labour’s plans to invest heavily in low carbon energy production, including the creation of 9,000 new wind turbines across the UK as a whole and fresh investment in new nuclear power stations.

“Moorside is a shining example of a promise that was made that wasn’t delivered by the Conservatives,” she said.

Mr Jenkinson said that he wanted to see the Moorside project go ahead: “I have confidence that we’ll see new nuclear in Copeland, and I’m committed to seeing that the supply chain for new nuclear lies in the Workington constituency.”

n For a full list of candidates standing in the Workington constituency, visit the News and Star website