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  1. ITV Report

Campaigners blocked from handing petition to Downing Street

Siobhan Gearing and Sue Hayman MP say the decision not to allow them through was not taken by the police. Credit: Sue Hayman MP

Cumbrian healthcare campaigners say they have been blocked from handing a petition against cuts to services to Downing Street.

Local Labour MP Sue Hayman, who represents Workington, made the trip to London today with local campaigner Siobhan Gearing.

The petition, which has been signed by 30,000 people, protests against plans proposed by the government-appointed Success Regime, which has been tasked with improving healthcare in Cumbria.

These proposals include the downgrading of maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, which could mean a 40-minute journey to Carlisle for pregnant women who suffer birth complications.

Sue Hayman MP told ITV Border that she had been told she could present the petition at Downing Street at 4pm today.

However, she says she was initially told to wait by the police.

Having done so for around 15 minutes, she says a security official from Downing Street approached, and told her she would have to return to present the petition on another day, or leave it with the police at the gate.

We had filled out all the paperwork, and Downing Street knew this petition was about healthcare.

This was not political, or about the Copeland by-election, it is about a huge local issue and the government needs to listen to local people.

Siobhan Gearing came all the way from Cumbria to hand the petition in with me today, and is absolutely furious.

We had to hand the petition in to the police, but they told us it was not their decision - it was Downing Street's.

– Sue Hayman MP

Downing Street sent the following statement.

The petition has been received and will be fully considered and responded to in the normal manner. No decisions have been made about the future of health services in north, west and east Cumbria.

“We understand the concerns of people living in rural areas and agree that patients should receive high quality care, regardless of where they live.”

“The presentation of petitions requires five days’ advance notice and on this occasion those procedures weren’t followed.”

– Spokesperson, Downing Street

Sue Hayman MP has since Tweeted that the "five day" rule only applies to members of the public, not MPs.