Prospective candidates have been quizzed on three key issues in Copeland: health provision in the area and how they propose to improve it; whether they support Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven being given the go-ahead; and which road they think needs to be improved and how they would make this happen.

Here’s what they had to say on each issue.


Tony Lywood (Labour): We need more doctors and nurses. My first act would be to try to restore the nursing bursaries which my Conservative opponent voted to end with the resultant 40 per cent fall in nursing applications.

We need to invest in more doctors being trained, stop privatising services and most of all make sure that services remain local and are not moved to Carlisle. The NHS also needs a year on year funding plan not an unexpected blossoming of a Conservative money tree.

Trudy Harrison (Conservative): Retaining maternity services was absolutely the right decision. This, together with massive investment in West Cumberland Hospital, increase in beds at Mary Hewetson Cottage Hospital and money for Millom Community Hospital is testament and thanks to an incredibly passionate community, Government recognition with significant funding and the skills and brilliant dedication of our local workforce. The workforce remains my priority. Through my skills fairs, school visits and conversations across the community I will raise the profile of local training courses and apprenticeships – without a workforce, we have no health or social care.

John Studholme (Liberal Democrat): Our local health service does outstanding work given the shortage of staffing. But the completion of the West Cumberland Hospital rebuild has taken far too long, ambulance services are over-stretched and mental health treatment issues are becoming critical. I do not wish to see another party political reorganisation of the health service. The way forward is cross-party agreement and listening to the advice of the professionals.

Jack Lenox (Green Party): I think healthcare services in this area – and across the country – have been completely undermined by the creeping privatisation that has been pursued by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour Party. I would seek to repeal the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 in an effort to reverse this.

I would also like to see much greater emphasis on mental healthcare and believe it should be placed on an equal footing with physical healthcare.


Trudy Harrison: Since first learning of the need for coking coal and the possibility of a deep coal mine in West Cumbria I have been supportive of Woodhouse Colliery. I support it because the steel industry is utterly dependent on currently imported coking coal – which leads to 625 per cent more emissions. The EU refers to coking coal as a critical raw material due to the dependence placed upon its necessity for steel – and whilst recycling is helpful, there is simply not enough old steel lying about to meet the current and future needs.

Tony Lywood: I understand the environmental concerns raised. I want to see a green economy with power generated in non-polluting ways.

The West Cumbria Mine will provide coking coal which has to be used in the production of steel. Windmills, solar panels, tidal and hydro power require steel. Production at Woodhouse will overcome the need for coking coal to be imported across long distances and we are also promised 500 local jobs so we must support it.

John Studholme: I support the development of the Woodhouse Colliery subject to confirmation on safety matters. The coal will be used to produce coking coal for manufacturing steel. There is currently no alternative means of steel manufacture. Without a steel industry, the future of manufacturing in the UK will be under threat; steel is required for many aspects of manufacturing, including wind turbines, solar panels, electric cars and other vital carbon reduction products.

Jack Lenox: I am not in favour of the mine and I think this is a terrible decision. At a time when we ought to be focusing all of our efforts on tackling the climate emergency, councillors across all of the main parties are backing a new coal mine. It beggars belief.

There are proven ways of making steel using electrolysis, and this is where we should be investing time and money.


Tony Lywood: The priority for me is the A595. It is nose to tail every morning and evening with Sellafield traffic, and in some areas, especially south of Sellafield, it really is not suitable as a main route. It really is the longest lane in Britain!

We need to have as much of the road made into a dual carriageway as possible and have a proper joined-up approach to transport with rail and buses included.

Trudy Harrison: I have already made progress in raising priority of our roads across Copeland, in particular the A595 in the north and Dove Ford, which many of my constituents depend upon to travel to Barrow. Recent consultation was very well responded to and a meeting on November 22 will update councillors on progress and next steps as the Whitehaven Relief Road progresses.

Other vital areas include Calder Bridge, Holmrook, Muncaster and the Duddon.

John Studholme: We need to move ahead fast with the bypass for Whitehaven, and improving the road links to the south is of key importance. De-trunking the A595 south of Calder Bridge has meant no improvement for many years to this road, a major access and exit route from our biggest employer.

Jack Lenox: The only upgrade I support for our roads is the addition of separated cycle lanes alongside all of them. It is proven that upgrading roads doesn’t ease traffic, it just promotes more car use.

Meanwhile our bus services are being driven into extinction. We passed a motion at our autumn conference last month to make bus travel free as part of our Green New Deal.

We need to seriously upgrade public transport.