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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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David Cameron visits Carlisle estate to issue election call

Prime Minister David Cameron visited Carlisle today ahead of elections to choose Cumbria’s first police and crime commissioner.

David Cameron photo
Prime Minister David Cameron is greeted by Living Well Trust chief executive Geoff Baxter with Tory crime commissioner candidate Richard Rhodes and Carlisle MP John Stevenson

Mr Cameron went to the city’s Raffles estate and toured the Living Well Trust, which works with vulnerable young people and adults.

It is an organisation which has been credited with cutting trouble in the area as part efforts to rejuvenate the estate. Lessons learned in Carlisle are now influencing operations nationwide.

He was accompanied by Richard Rhodes, the Conservative police commissioner candidate for Cumbria, and by the city’s MP John Stevenson.

A spokesman for No. 10 said: “The Prime Minister is going to the Living Well Trust because of the work they do with young offenders.”

Downing Street hopes that the publicity surrounding Mr Cameron’s visit will ignite public interest in the elections next Thursday.

Mr Rhodes and Mr Stevenson were among a small group gathered outside the centre just before midday to greet the Prime Minister.

Police stood on guard outside and near the Living Well Trust, on Raffles Avenue, opposite Heysham Park.

At 12.03pm, Mr Cameron’s grey Jaguar pulled up outside the centre, followed by escort vehicles.

The Prime Minister, wearing a dark suit, purple tie and poppy, got out of his car to meet Mr Rhodes and Mr Stevenson before going into the building for meetings.

A low turnout is being predicted in Cumbria and elsewhere for next week’s elections, possibly below 20 per cent.

A derisory vote would undermine the credibility of commissioners who are to replace police authorities across England and Wales.

Whoever is chosen will have powers to hire and fire the chief constable. They will also take charge of policing priorities and set the force budget.

In a statement to The Cumberland News, Mr Cameron called on people to use their vote.

He said: “You might be thinking – why should I bother? Why should I care?

“If you care about feeling safe as you walk through your neighbourhood, if you care about the streets your children ride their bikes in, if you care about what your town centre’s like at the weekend, you should care about this – because the right candidate can have a big impact on all these things.

“There will be one local law-and-order champion whose name and reputation is on the line.

“Someone working constantly with the knowledge that if they don’t do a good job, if they don’t give you the tough, no-nonsense policing you want, then they’ll be kicked out of the job.”

Mr Cameron urged voters to support Mr Rhodes.

He described the retired headteacher, former magistrate and former chairman of Cumbria Probation Board as a “fantastic local candidate” dedicated to public service.

Mr Rhodes is favourite to win because the Conservatives amassed substantially more votes than other parties across Cumbria at the 2010 general election and at the 2009 county council poll.

His challengers are Labour’s Patrick Leonard, Liberal Democrat Pru Jupe and Independent Mary Robinson.

Mr Cameron will be hoping that his visit can act as a lucky omen for the Conservatives.

Today’s was the Prime Minister’s second visit to Carlisle this year.

In April, he delivered a major policy speech on apprenticeships and vocational training today while at the headquarters of System Training, near Carlisle Airport.

He also visited Carlisle two days before the 2010 general election when Mr Stevenson took the Parliamentary seat from Labour to become the city’s first Conservative MP since 1964.

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