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Cornish residents quiz Labour leader over local funding

Cornish residents quiz Labour leader over local funding

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 5:57am 22nd May 2020. (Updated at 9:28am 22nd May 2020)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Labour leader Keir Starmer says he wants to listen to what the people of Cornwall want and build trust in his party.

Mr Starmer took part in an online “Call Keir” event this evening which gave people the chance to quiz the Labour leader.

Opening the session he said:

“The point of this is for me to listen to you.

“We particularly wanted to get people in Cornwall who have maybe never voted Labour or who did but don’t vote Labour anymore to ask questions.”

Wearing an open-necked white shirt and sitting in a black office chair Sir Keir said he and the party had a “huge challenge ahead”.

On several occasions he reminded viewers that Labour has lost the last four elections and stressed that he wanted to change the party’s fortunes.

The first caller was Nigel from Perranporth who admitted that he had voted Conservative at the last election. He simply asked what reason could the leader give for voting Labour now.

Starmer said he believed the party was built on two elements – solidarity and opportunity.

He felt that while the party had been strong on the former at the last election it had not been so much on the latter.

Nigel also raised his concerns about the coronavirus lockdown and the numbers of people now being seen on beaches in Cornwall.

Starmer said he supported lockdown but felt that “we should have done it sooner”.

He then said he was not against lifting restrictions but that “we need to be careful how we do it” and also wanted children to be able to go back to school but “we have got make sure that it is safe to do it”.

The Labour leader also criticised the Prime Minister’s messaging when easing restrictions saying that it was not clear enough and had led to confusion about what is and what isn’t allowed.

Laura Rundle, a registrar from Truro, also raised concerns about the current coronavirus situation, while Ed Trathen, from Redruth, who said his family had long association with the Labour Party, said Suir Keir needed to make sure the party’s manifesto is “realistic”.

The NHS was next under the microscope with Cathering Rule, who works for the NHS and lives in Truro, asking how Labour would support the NHS in future.

Sir Keir said that while NHS staff were being appreciated now during the coronavirus crisis that needed to continue afterwards.

Alister O’Laughlin, from Par, said he had been facing an issue with securing match funding for an arts project.

The Labour leader said he would get the shadow chancellor to look at their particular case but he agreed with the plan from the previous manifesto to have regional investment funds which would direct funding in Cornwall/South West and make it more accessible and focused on the need in the local area.

After the meeting we asked Sir Keir about the regional investment fund and the impact on Cornwall of losing EU funding and the lack of clarity over the Shared Prosperity Fund which the Government has said would replace that funding.

He said: “The Shared Prosperity Fund and work on it needs to work through the gears much, much faster.

“In Cornwall and the South West there is an understandable and genuine concern about how that will work, particularly with EU money falling away – these are real people’s lives and businesses and the economy.

“The regional investment funds are really important for long-term investment and that is certainly something that we want to build upon.”

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