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Constituency report: Copeland

Photo: ITV Border

Though the boundaries of Copeland constituency have changed numerous times, it has been a Labour stronghold since 1935.

But although the party has won the seat at every election for the last 80 years, it has not always had a comfortable majority.

The current constituency boundaries were drawn up in 2010, when Labour's Jamie Reed won the seat. He had also polled highest in 2005 under the previous boundary arrangements.

This year, he will compete against candidates from the Conservative Party, the Green Party, UKIP, and the Liberal Democrats to try to keep the seat.

Credit: ITV Border

The constituency

Geographically, the Copeland constituency stretches from Cumbria's west coast to the western fells.

It includes the towns of Whitehaven, Egremont, and Millom to the south, and Keswick to the east.

At the last election the breakdown of results was as follows:

Labour's Jamie Reed was 8.9% ahead of his closest rival in the Conservative Party at the last General Election Credit: ITV Border

So, what issues are important to voters in the constituency?

At a glance:

  • Energy plays a huge role in the local economy - both nuclear, and renewable
  • Healthcare and the NHS remain a key concern
  • Sellafield is the constituency's biggest single employer. It has a workforce of more than 10,000, and the average wage is £60,000
  • Tourism is the main industry in Keswick, and the average house price there is £282,000

For some voters, the price of housing is an important issue:

I'm 28 this year and I still live at home with my parents. In Keswick, the prices of houses are so high that it's impossible to even raise the money to get a deposit."

– Resident, Keswick

The NHS is the top priority for some voters:

The NHS and what the future of the NHS holds - that's the only thing I have an interest in to be honest with you."

– Resident, Keswick

Others claim more needs to be done to improve the area for residents with disabilities.

As things stand, they believe parts of the constituency are inaccessible:

Copeland is terrible - it is not disabled-friendly at all. There are so many kerbs, nowhere to park, little dips everywhere - it's a death trap. The amount of times I can't go places because there's no access."

– User, Age UK drop in centre in Egremont

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:

Conservative candidate Stephen Haraldsen Credit: ITV Border

The people of Copeland have benefited very much from having a Conservative-led government with a strong long-term economic plan, which has seen unemployment, and particularly youth unemployment, fall by nearly 40%. But we now need to build on that success, and improve our infrastructure and public services so that we can drive our future prosperity and that's why I've written to the Chancellor asking that, like Manchester, Copeland and West Cumbria be allowed to keep all the growth in business rates that are coming from new nuclear to invest in our infrastructure and diversify our economy."

– Stephen Haraldsen, Conservative candidate
Labour candidate Jamie Reed Credit: ITV Border

There are loads of issues in Copeland right now. Our best days are ahead of us in terms of the economic future that we're building. We're about to see the biggest ever private sector investment into our area. The fight for the services that needs to go on at the West Cumberland Hospital is the foremost priority of mine, getting more investment into our town centre is absolutely critical, and if we're going to take full advantage of all the opportunities coming our way, we need some heavy investment in our schools, and in apprenticeships as well."

– Jamie Reed, Labour candidate
Liberal Democrat candidate Danny Gallagher Credit: ITV Border

The National Health Service, West Cumberland Hospital especially, needs to survive. I want to support that as much as I can, take that into the heart of Westminster, fight for them, fight for the people of Copeland. And social housing, that is something that's much needed in the area, for younger people especially. And that's where I want to stand up as a voice for the local people."

– Danny Gallagher, Liberal Democrat
UKIP candidate Michael Pye Credit: ITV Border

UKIP is the party of the working man and woman. It is heartbreaking to see the Conservatives and Labour - yes, and Labour - slowly destroy the NHS. UKIP is the only party committed to the NHS. We must leave the political European Union. UKIP has very strong policies on agriculture, fisheries, defence etc. but we have to be an independent, democratic country again, in order to implement these policies. UKIP stands for democracy, and we are the party of the working man and woman."

– Michael Pye, UKIP

A full list of parliamentary candidates standing for election in the Copeland constituency is as follows:

  • Danny Gallagher (Liberal Democrats)
  • Stephen Haraldsen (Conservative)
  • Michael Pye (UKIP)
  • Jamie Reed (Labour)
  • Allan Todd (Green Party)

Watch Katie Hunter's full report on the Copeland constituency:

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