It was once a Labour stronghold, but when the people of Blyth Valley went to the polls on December 12 they abandoned decades of tradition.

Ian Levy has become the first Conservative MP for the constituency since the 1950s and the once-thriving area is looking to a future without Ronnie Campbell for the first time since 1987.

During his campaign, Mr Levy ranked maintaining funding for the NHS a priority, writing in a Facebook post on November 9.

And while the love for the NHS in the town is undoubted, residents are desperate to see town centre investment in the hope businesses will return and the downward spiral facing shoppers could halt.

Asim Babar who has owned McKenzie Newsagents in the centre of Blyth for 14 years

Asim Babar has owned McKenzie Newsagents for 14 years and said he has seen a decline in the area due to a poor economy. 

He believes Blyth would benefit from a town centre supermarket as it would bring more people to the area and provide better business prospects. 

The 44-year-old said: “Most shopping trade has now gone to Cramlington because there is not much choice in Blyth now and we are losing business which is causing more shops to close.  

“It will be interesting to see what the Conservative MP has planned for the area and I think any change is good, as long as they’re doing good for the community.”

Echoing the view that “any change is good”, former construction manager Robert Wake believes Blyth has declined so much over the years that the area can’t possibly deteriorate any further. 

Robert, who has lived in Blyth all of his life, welcomes a new Conservative MP as he lost confidence in the previous Labour leadership and feels the council has let Blyth down through lack of investment.

The 72-year-old explains that one of the biggest challenges Mr Levy may face is that he is new to politics. 

However, Robert feels that people will be supportive of Ian and his policies, particularly his plans to restore a passenger rail line between Ashington, Blyth and Newcastle, which ended in 1964. 

Robert said: “I think his priorities will be getting the trains and bringing more work and people to Blyth. 

“I’m past the days where it really affects me now, but we need to do something for the younger generation and I think it would be nice to bring the railways back.” 

One resident shares her hopes for the town at Blyth Market place

Reflecting on Blyth in previous years, one resident explains: “you couldn’t move for the market stalls and you would be fighting people with the buggy to get through when my kids were little.” 

However, as she walks through the town centre with her grandchildren today, she is unable to ignore the character it has lost, describing it as a “ghost town”. 

The 50-year-old adds: “I think the area is a bit down trodden because it just doesn’t get the money spent on it. 

“You hear a lot of people in the shops say that they can’t afford the rates, so I think reducing the rent will help to fill the empty shops - we just need to get people back in to this area.” 

Gemma Gillespie who opened Once Upon a Tier cake shop in Blyth six months ago

Having opened her cake shop, Once Upon a Tier, in Blyth town centre just six months ago, Gemma Gillespie is an example of how a business can thrive in Blyth. 

Gemma decided to open her shop in the town as she has lived here most of her life and is a true believer in supporting her local area. 

Speaking about her hopes for the new MP, the 35-year-old explains: “I would like them to try and push for regenerating the town centre.  

“There is a lack of variety in the shops here and that is what it is desperate for. There is nowhere to buy kids clothes other than the supermarket and that is why people venture up to Cramlington where there is a much bigger range.” 

Holding a similar opinion to Asim and Robert, Gemma adds: “I think Blyth gets forgotten about and people have little faith in the area, but it can only get better.”