Copeland's mayor has welcomed the appointment of a former Government minister to a new role with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Mike Starkie said he was "delighted" at the appointment of former local Government minister and Labour Party chairwoman Hazel Blears as the NDA's new "social values specialist".

Mr Starkie said Mrs Blears has worked "quite closely" with Copeland Council for several years on a number of projects, and is a "nationally-recognised expert" in the field of promoting social values.

Mrs Blears will provide advice to the NDA group on how to increase the social, economic and environmental impact of its work to decommission and clean up the UK's oldest nuclear sites, Mr Starkie explained.

"Hazel's a key member of the future opportunities group that I chair, and contributes greatly towards that," Mr Starkie said.

"She is also heavily involved in Well Whitehaven, a project that's being led by Copeland Council.

"From a personal perspective, I'm delighted to see the appointment of Hazel, and I look forward to working closely with her in her new capacity.

"I have the highest regard for Hazel Blears, who has worked quite closely with Copeland Council for a period of time now."

Mr Starkie shared his thoughts on the appointment at last week's Copeland Council meeting, in response to a question from Labour councillor for Whitehaven Central, Eileen Weir, on the exact nature of Mrs Blears' new appointment.

The NDA group has 17 sites across the UK, including Sellafield.