Prime Minister Theresa May visited Clay Cross today as part of her election campaign.
The NE Derbyshire constituency, currently held by Natascha Engel for Labour, is one of the Tory’s key election targets.
She visited IKO Polymeric, on Coney Green Road, Clay Cross, along with the newly-selected Conservative Party candidate for the NE Derbyshire constituency, Lee Rowley, 36.
And, we well as meeting staff at the business, which manufactures roofing products, Mrs May took some time to answer a few questions from the Derbyshire Times about key issues in the constituency and a few affecting the country in general.
The Prime Minister discussed various topics, such as the effects of HS2, fracking and cuts to social care on the area and even took the time to give her thoughts on what a ‘mugwump’ was - a reference to the words of her party colleague Boris Johnson about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
On the subject of fracking - which is major concern for people in north east Derbyshire, Mrs May said it was important that people in the country had a clean and secure energy supply.
“People recognise that they need an energy supply they can rely on and obviously shale gas extraction can play an important part in that,” she added.
“But when it comes to local communities and the impact that will have, it’s important first of all that we have very clear and rigorous rules about that extraction.
“This is also about what support can be given to local communities. We think, overall, something like a billion pounds could be made available and local communities can use it to support their interests.”
Another environmental concern shared by Derbyshire folk is the HS2 route and the effect it will have on the communities it will pass through.
Mrs May said: “I recognise the concerns local communities will have when a major infrastructure project is proposed for their local area but I think if we look at the project overall it is important in terms of capacity for the mainline and it is important that we invest in infrastructure for the future of our economy.
“It’s only by putting investment in infrastructure and by supporting economies around the country that we are going to be able to support the stronger economy that we need for the future.”
And while on the subject of the economy and after being asked about the recent bank closures in Clay Cross, Mrs May said this also had a knock-on effect on the high street and it was vitally important that government acted to provide support.
She added: “We have done that with regard to business rates for small businesses - the overall package for business rates support is about £9bn.
“But it’s focused on small businesses and encouraging small businesses to grow - that can help to develop a town centre.
“And we have seen more than 60,000 new small businesses in the east midlands since 2010. What you need is a strong and stable government to provide that strong economy.”
And while the PM was keen to emphasise the benefits of a strong and stable government she conceded that recent times had seen big cuts to our social care budget in Derbyshire.
But she added: “As we see a growing aging population it’s important that we look at the issue of social care.
“In the short-term, we have put more funding into social care. We’ve given councils the opportunity to have a three per cent precept on council tax to put into social care.
“In the budget in spring the Chancellor announced £2bn extra to go into social care but we also need to ensure best practice around the country because it varies significantly and we need to make sure everybody is learning from the best.
“We also need to make sure we have a long-term sustainable care system in the UK.”
And finally, Mrs May declined to give a definition of what a mugwump was, instead opting to say that she recognised that what we needed in the country was strong and stable leadership to have a strong hand while negotiating Brexit.