Shadow secretary slams West Cumbrian public transport 'difficulties'
Labour's shadow transport secretary has highlighted the "incredible difficulties" facing public transport users in West Cumbria.
Andy McDonald joined the party's Copeland by-election candidate Gillian Troughton for a bus trip yesterday from West Cumbria to the Cumberland Infirmary, to illustrate the journey faced by those visiting loved ones at the hospital.
Mr McDonald said a lack of government investment is "clearly hampering this region".
Mid-journey from Moor Row to Carlisle, Mr McDonald told the News & Star: "This trip is to shine a light on a number of issues; to highlight the need for more investment on transport in the area, and it brings into focus how poor the investment is here compared to London. There needs to be a better balance, and a fairer share.
"It also highlights how difficult it is for people using public transport to visit relatives at the West Cumberland Hospital, but if services move and people have to travel to Carlisle, it will be even more challenging.
"It takes the same time to travel from central Manchester to Carlisle as it does getting public transport from Copeland to Carlisle."
Mrs Troughton said: "I know that from a lot of places in Copeland the buses have been cut back or scrapped altogether so moving hospital services just isn’t practical for local people. Whether you have to travel for your own treatment or to visit someone, you should have a local hospital that is easy to access.
“It’s a disgrace that people who rely on public transport will have to travel over two hours to get hospital treatment in Carlisle. It will create a two tier health service in Copeland for those who have access to a car and those who don’t. I’m not going to let that happen”
In terms of financing improvements, Mrs Troughton added: "The Government needs a balanced economic plan – the austerity programme has only added more to the national debt – and a sound financial plan is what Labour is working towards."