Cabinet minister Gavin Williamson dropped in on the campaign trail of his party’s two West Cumbrian candidates.

The education secretary met Copeland’s Conservative hopeful, Trudy Harrison, to see the progress made at the Whitehaven Academy, before meeting her Workington counterpart, Mark Jenkinson, on the campaign trail.

Mr Williamson saw first-hand how £20million government investment would help transform the school. He spoke with headteacher Nigel Youngman and chief executive of Cumbria Education Trust Lorrayne Hughes, then had a tour of the school, meeting with staff and answering students in a Q&A session.

Mr Williamson said of his visit: “Trudy has been saying to me I absolutely have to come and see the transformation at Whitehaven Academy. You can see as you go around, it’s a school with a really bright future. You can see the passion and the enthusiasm of the staff and pupils to build something better. I think it will be really treasured by the people of Whitehaven.”

He said Mrs Harrison had helped fight to turn things around at the troubled school.

“Making the voice of the people of Copeland heard, that’s what you want in a local MP. You want someone who is willing to be able to stand up and speak out for their constituents and that’s what you’ve seen in terms of results being delivered in Whitehaven.”

Asked about concerns over possible cuts to school funding, Mr Williamson said: “Funding per pupil is going to increase the year after and the year after that. Funding is going to be going up under a Conservative government.”

He also pledged to help struggling families with the rising cost of uniforms. “We are going to be bringing into legislation to make sure that schools aren’t able to charge excessive amounts for school uniforms.”

Mrs Harrison said: “We are not finished here at Whitehaven Academy. I want Gavin to know how much that £20million is needed for this school. I would also like to add that it is testament to the students, the teachers, the parents, the Whitehaven Academy Action Group in particular, that we’re getting the result here and that investment into the school.”

The minister then joined Mr Jenkinson as he knocked on doors around Stanbeck Meadows to talk to ‘Workington Man’, a key target for the Conservatives to win the election.

He said: “Workington is absolutely a key seat. Labour have been in power for generation after generation after generation. They’ve not been delivering. Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth – they’re all wanting something better and they want to have a strong voice in Westminster. I want to see Mark as an MP for Workington to make it absolutely clear this isn’t a community that is being forgotten or going to be left behind.”

When Mr Jenkinson was asked if he thought people living at Stanbeck Meadows represented the ‘Workington Man’, he replied: “We are right in the centre of Workington. These are Workington men and women.”

  • Other candidates for Copeland include: Tony Lywood (Labour), John Studholme (Lib Dem) and Jack Lenox (Green).
  • Other candidates for Workington include: Sue Hayman (Labour), Neil Hughes (Lib Dem), Nicky Cockburn (Independent), Jill Perry (Green), Roy Ivinson (Independent) and David Walker (Brexit Party).