Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged voters in the upcoming local elections to "vote for a positive alternative" on a visit to west Cumbria today.

Sir Keir was in Workington town centre on a walkabout this morning to speak to residents and business owners about the cost of living crisis.

He was accompanied by Mark Fryer and Barbara Cannon, both Labour candidates in the Cumberland Council elections, and was met with a round of applause by Workington Labour supporters. News and Star:

The leader of the opposition was introduced to the town's long-standing tradition of Uppies and Downies, a game which has its roots in medieval football and has been played for hundreds of years.

He met Dan Fryer, who led the the Downies to victory in this year's series and was shown the special Jubilee ball that was successfully hailed, along with a copy of the story published in this week's Times & Star.News and Star:

Sir Keir visited businesses including Sinclair's Jewellers and The Washington Central and heard residents' concerns over the rising cost of living.

Speaking to reporters, the Labour Party leader said: "I've been talking to people in the high street and the issue that has come up is the cost of living and people saying they can't afford to pay their bills, especially their energy bills.

"What I think should happen is, we should have a windfall tax on oil and gas companies in the North Sea, who have made more profit than they were expecting. Use that to help people with their bills - up to £600 for those most in need.News and Star:

"The second thing I'd do is not introduce the tax that's being introduced this month by the Government. I've talked to people in Workington and they like that idea."

Sir Keir was also quizzed about the proposed new coal mine in Whitehaven and if he supported the nuclear industry.

He said: "I'm a big supporter of anything that generates jobs in Cumbria but a new coal mine isn't the way forward on this. The really good new generation jobs in tech and digital, they're all in nuclear, renewables. What I would say is let's grasp those opportunities.

"I do support new nuclear and reactors and I think what people in Workington want, is what's the plan for the next generation of jobs. Sellafield and what comes next. Beyond nuclear I think there are lots of opportunities in places like Workington. 

News and Star:


"So many people are saying I want to see good jobs near where I live that are high skilled so people don't have to get out, to get on. I completely understand and agree with that."News and Star:

Sir Keir urged voters to "send a message" by voting Labour when they go to the polls to elect councillors for the new unitary authority - Cumberland Council.News and Star:

"The local elections on May 5 give everybody who is fed up with a Government that's doing nothing about their energy bills and nothing about the cost of living crisis and are fed up of a Prime Minister who has said I want you to follow these rules but I'm not going to follow them myself, send a message, vote Labour, vote for a positive alternative."