PROSPECTIVE candidates have been quizzed on three key issues in the Workington constituency: health provision in the area and how they propose to improve it; what will they do for education and how they propose to increase investment in schools; and which road they think needs to be improved and how they would make this happen...


Sue Hayman (Labour): Since before I was elected, I’ve been fighting to retain essential health services, such as the stroke unit, in West Cumbria, whether at the West Cumberland Hospital or in our community hospitals.

Saving consultant-led maternity at the WCH was a huge vote of confidence in our local health services, and we need to build on that success. I’ve always said that we need to “grow our own” when it comes to recruitment, so I’ll continue to support the medical education campus at West Lakes and a Labour government would bring back bursaries to encourage more people to study nursing.

Mark Jenkinson (Conservative): As a local resident, born and bred in the constituency, I understand how important it is to invest in our NHS and healthcare services, recognising the work our NHS and support staff put in to our community. Local services are vital – I understand these services need to be protected in rural areas like ours.

We are investing record amounts in the NHS. I want to use the government’s planned investment to boost our community hospitals and bring in more doctors, nurses and support staff, so we ensure that the area – left behind by Labour – thrives again.

Neil Hughes (Liberal Democrat): Expectations are high for integrated care communities (ICCs) but the worsening shortage of GPs will hit all communities. The Lib Dems would run campaigns to interest school pupils in an NHS clinical or care assistant career.

Mental health needs greater investment (as Lib Dems promised when in goverment only to be overruled by the Conservatives). We would ensure trained mental health staff were available in all large businesses plus schools and colleges.

Maternity services need to be fully retained in West Cumbria. As county health scrutiny chair I fought successfully for this. Ambulance and hospital transport also must be made more available.

Jill Perry (Green Party): The NHS has been undermined by the creeping privatisation pursued by previous Governments. We need to repeal the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 to reverse this. We need to tackle aspects of our society that cause ill-health through a crackdown on unhealthy food and alcohol advertising, improved mental health training in the workplace, and a serious Clean Air Act. We will ensure that services are always publicly provided, funded and free, and will expand the NHS to include dentistry, prescriptions and mental health treatments. The costs would be more than recuperated from the wider benefits of a healthier society.

David Walker (Brexit Party): The staff in the NHS work long hours to provide the best possible service and they deserve huge admiration, but they are too few in number and spread sparsely due to Government underfunding.

The funds in place should be directed from top-heavy management and aimed towards frontline services.

With funding in place we will be able to recruit more doctors and implement sensible bursaries to train nurses to cover the 40,000 reported shortages.

Nicky Cockburn (Independent): Health provision is underfunded and the distances between hospitals is simply not understood by the decision- makers. Extreme rural areas like ours require special consideration.

We also need more GPs trained, to reduce waiting times locally and more generally in order to improve the healthcare and actually value our existing professionals. I would increase nurses pay by five per cent by stopping the big company corporation tax cut next April.

Roy Ivinson (Independent): I certainly want to see the West Cumbrian hospitals thrive and develop. I want to stop people smoking. The health provision in West Cumbria is a product of people making themselves ill by eating the wrong kind of foods. Ten percent of the NHS budget is being spent on diabetes.

I would have a health and environment tax.


Sue Hayman: Local schools have suffered deeply unfair cuts over the last decade under this Conservative government, and Yvonne Craig, headteacher at Maryport’s Ewanrigg Junior School, has succinctly set out the devastating effect that the Tories’ austerity cuts to our schools and local services have had on our local kids. Schools across the constituency will have a total funding shortfall between 2015 and 2021 of nearly £13 million. Enough is enough. Only Labour will ensure that schools and colleges have the funding they desperately need, through the delivery of a National Education Service, so that all our children receive the best possible start in life.

Mark Jenkinson: Every child should have access to a fantastic education. This Conservative government inherited several failing schools in the Workington constituency. This government has made investment available for the development of several new academies – including Workington Academy which opened in 2015. This increased investment ensures that the next generation can have access to better education and the increased opportunities for social mobility that come with it. The Conservative government is investing an additional £14billion into schools by 2020-21, with more money for EVERY school – and Workington constituency set to receive one of the largest uplifts across the UK.

Neil Hughes: I’d want to see standard testing (SATs) and the regulator Ofsted both abolished, with pupils assessed by better-trained teachers on an ongoing basis with only strategic exams. We must boost further and higher education funding and also that of early years’, extending upwards the latter’s free provision age range.

Some academy schools are notoriously bad and all should be returned to local authority oversight, creating room for fuller teacher development and better repair of buildings.

Teachers should be entitled to their own professional institution which might also help safeguard their own mental health and that of their pupils.

Jill Perry: Our current system places unacceptable pressures on both teachers and pupils, draining the joy out of learning. We will abolish Ofsted and restore local authority control over education, ensuring that control and inspection of our schools rests with their communities. We will abolish SATs and league tables and encourage creativity and outdoor learning for all.

David Walker: All schools in our country simply must be funded properly. I feel we owe a decent education to all the youth of our nation.

Since a majority of us voted to leave the EU in 2016 we have continued to pay billions of pounds for continued membership. When we do finally leave with our hoped-for clean-break Brexit I believe a significant proportion of these funds must be made available to our education system.

Nicky Cockburn: To tackle the underfunding in state education I would make all private schools pay tax by removing their charitable status plus pay a one-off levy on their financial reserves. The resulting money raised would be ring-fenced for education and mean a significant injection of money to invest into education.

Roy Ivinson (Independent): We need to stop politicians interfering in the classroom, we need to design an educational system that will get results, that has got to be the job of educationalists. The only job that politicians should have is to sack the ones who don’t succeed.


Sue Hayman: For years, we’ve had many promises from Conservative ministers about improvements to transport infrastructure in West Cumbria, but very little delivery. Our local economy suffers as a result of poor road and rail connections. It’s clear that our major roads, including the A595, A596 and the A66, all need serious investment to make them safer and to reduce journey times, but I also want to see investment in our railway to provide a better service while providing an opportunity to get lorries off our roads.

Mark Jenkinson: Our community needs better roads, improved public transport and better rail, sea and digital infrastructure. I will make sure that Parliament works for Workington, turning around the decades of neglect by complacent Labour MPs. I will campaign for improvements to the A66 from Workington to Penrith – including looking at dual-carriageway feasibility, and dealing with the Ramsay Brow bottleneck. I will work with local Conservative MP’s John Stevenson and Trudy Harrison to ensure that vital upgrades to the A595 are delivered. I will lobby Government to re-trunk the A595 – bringing this vital strategic link back under the control of Highways England.

Neil Hughes: There is more work needed along the A595 with its vital function in connecting communities to Sellafield. One confusing thing is the way some roads come under county council jurisdiction, others that of Highways England.

A better solution for all our traffic problems would be to put more freight and passengers on to railways; e.g. by re-opening the Workington-Cockermouth-Penrith section, If people could try to walk more or cycle shorter journeys this would benefit their health and the environment

If we fail to tackle climate change enhancing any roads will be in vain, as flooded Cockermouth, Flimby and Workington residents recognise.

Jill Perry: It’s important we don’t upgrade roads, but use the money that could be allocated to roads to make our transport system fairer. We need to invest in public transport, - buses and trains, and active transport - walking and cycling, with cycle lanes alongside and separate from roads. Upgrading roads doesn’t ease congestion, it just promotes more car use. We need to save our bus services from extinction and we passed a motion at our autumn conference last month to make bus travel free as part of our Green New Deal.

David Walker: The main roads serving the constituency are the A66 and the A595. I feel certain areas of these roads need to be dualled to reduce collisions, encourage investment in industry and unlock tourism potential. I strongly believe certain areas like Workington have been neglected and abandoned. If elected I intend to highlight these issues to Highways England as it is time out road infrastructure was brought up to par with other areas of the country.

Nicky Cockburn: All our roads need major investment and it is difficult to pick a least worst, however the A596 Carlisle to Workington carries a significant amount of freight through towns and villages. I would prioritise this route in tandem with improving the coastal rail and ports whilst also improving the A595 and encouraging freight away from A596.

I have a track record in achieving things on transport; for example my experience of getting the green light for a new roundabout on the A66 at the Broughton/Brigham junction showed me that being a determined pest to the right people pays off.

Roy Ivinson: The road I want to see upgraded is a coast road along Maryport promenade. I want it to carry on to the golf club, which would help develop the tourism industry. That would be a very important road for development in Maryport. We need to look again at our rail network.