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Constituency report: Workington

Photo: ITV Border

This year could see big changes for the Workington constituency as its long-serving Labour MP has retired.

Historically, Workington has been a safe seat for the party, and it's returned a Labour MP at every general election for the last 100 years.

Sir Tony Cunningham first won the seat 14 years ago, and received more than 45% of the vote at the last election.

But in this close national race, and with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Greens all contesting the seat, a repeat performance by Labour cannot be taken for granted.

Credit: ITV Border

The Constituency

Geographically, the Workington constituency covers the town itself, the coastal resort of Silloth to the north and Cockermouth on the edge of the Lake District National Park.

At the last election, the Conservatives came second to Labour with the breakdown of results as follows:

Labour were 11.6% ahead of their closest rivals, the Conservatives, at the last election Credit: ITV Border

So what do those heading to the polling booth in Workington on May 7 need to know?

At a glance:

  • Child poverty in some wards is almost twice the national average
  • People are more likely to have been hit by cuts to social welfare
  • Millions of pounds have been spent repairing the damaged caused by the 2009 floods
  • The energy industry is important to the local economy

The energy sector is one of the biggest employers in the area.

Historically, it was the nuclear industry that provided many jobs, with local companies supplying nearby Sellafield.

More recently, renewable "green" energy has also been a growing sector, with wind power in particular being harnessed in the area.

But for one firm set up to deal with nuclear waste, there are concerns. Forth Engineering has invested more than £1 million in its business, and created jobs in the area.

But the Managing Director is worried that there are not enough workers in the region qualified to take on these roles.

Employment is a problem for us at the moment, and has been for quite some time. We really struggle to get good engineers - not just engineers but [workers] across all disciplines."

– Mark Telford, Managing Director of Forth Engineering

Some of the older generation agree, with members of the Senhouse Street Working Mens Club saying they're concerned for the future prospects of young people.

I think the young people haven't got a lot going for them"

– Visitor, Senhouse Street Working Men's Club

The candidates:

We asked some of the candidates standing for election on May 7 to tell us what it is that they think matters in the constituency:

Labour candidate Sue Hayman Credit: ITV Border

Labour will scrap the bedroom tax and protect the NHS. We need to sort out the crisis in A&E and make sure that we all have proper access to the care services we need: in hospitals, from our GPs, and at home.

And I'll work to make sure we get the most from the huge investment the nuclear industry is making in West Cumbria, working with schools and colleges, and with businesses, so that local people have the right skills to fill the jobs that we need."

– Sue Hayman, Labour candidate
UKIP candidate Mark Jenkinson Credit: ITV Border

UKIP believe in Britain. We believe that you deserve a free, accessible, and properly funded NHS. We believe that those from poorer backgrounds that aspire to be the doctors and engineers that this country so desperately needs should not be burdened with tuition fees. We believe the best way to put money in your pocket is to leave it there in the first place by raising the tax threshold to above national minimum wage. We believe that all levels of government should be open and transparent and that you should have the right to sack a poor MP."

– Mark Jenkinson, UKIP candidate
Conservative candidate Rozila Kana Credit: ITV Border

I believe I have a fair chance of winning this seat. If I have your support, and more importantly your trust, I have only one agenda, and that is to represent your best interests.

After 30 years of Labour, and increased depravation and isolation in both rural and urban areas, not voting is not an option this time."

– Rozila Kana, Conservative candidate
Green Party candidate Jill Perry Credit: ITV Border

Judge me on my actions. I've been a campaigner in West Cumbria for the last 25 years on issues of environmental and social justice.

Judge the Green Party on its policies and actions. Having one Green MP in parliament, Caroline Lucas, has made a real difference."

– Jill Perry, Green Party candidate
Liberal Democrat candidate Phill Roberts Credit: ITV Border

The priority is for the people of Workington to vote for somebody independent enough to represent all the people of Workington, not just the few.

Whether it's the farmer campaigning for a fair milk price, or a parent of a child with Aspergers campaigning for services, or a carer looking after a loved one, what we need is opportunity for all, a fair society, and somebody who is going to campaign against inequality in society."

– Phill Roberts, Liberal Democrat candidate

The full list of candidates standing in Workington is as follows:

  • Sue Hayman (Labour)
  • Mark Jenkinson (UKIP)
  • Rozila Kana (Conservative)
  • Jill Perry (Green Party)
  • Phill Roberts (Liberal Democrats)

Watch Matthew Taylor's full report on the Workington Constituency:

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