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  1. Updates on Friday 24 February 2017

Live Reporting

By Martin Lewes

All times stated are UK

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As it happened: BBC Cumbria Live

Martin Lewes


We've now finished this service of news, travel reports, a regular weather forecast, and other things that take our fancy around this county for today and this week.

We have seen history made, with the first Conservative elected to Parliament for Copeland in more than 80 years - the Prime Minister was among those who came to congratulate Trudy Harrison ;

And on an already busy news day, a report revealed the scale of public opposition to proposals to change health services in North and West Cumbria.

We can squeeze in the weather forecast for a wet and windy night , with a warning of possible local flooding tomorrow.

We do it all again starting 08:00 on Monday: As always, if you have a photograph you'd like to share or you have news you think we should know, you can  email ustweet us , or get in touch  through our Facebook page .     

Have a very good weekend.

Jury fails to reach verdict on Carlisle rape charges

A jury has been discharged after failing to reach a decision in a rape trial.

John Thomas Jones had been on trial at Carlisle Crown Court over allegations he had raped a woman three times in November 2015. 

The 30-year-old, of Cornwall Street, Birmingham, denied three counts of rape and one count of assault.

The jury found Jones guilty of assault by a majority verdict, but could not reach a verdict on the three rape charges. He was remanded in custody.

The prosecution will now consider if it wants to seek a retrial. A decision is expected in the next two weeks.

Copeland by-election: Theresa May visits new Tory MP
Prime Minister Theresa May has been on a flying visit to Cumbria to welcome her newest MP.

Health report: 'Large sections of public reject all findings'

The report published today digests the views of 5,000 people who responded to a public consultation on the future of hospital services in north, east and west Cumbria.

The Success Regime, called in to sort out problems in the trust that runs North Cumbria's hospitals, had put forward a set of favoured options .

These included:

  • Having a midwife-led maternity unit for low risk births at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, with consultant led services dealing with more complex deliveries;
  • Concentrating in-patient children's services in Carlisle, with a short-stay observation unit and some overnight beds in the Whitehaven hospital;
  • Concentrating beds in cottage hospitals in Whitehaven (Copeland Unit), Cockermouth, Workington, Penrith, Brampton and Keswick, which would mean closing beds in Wigton, Maryport and Alston. 
  • Maintaining 24/7 accident and emergency services in Whitehaven and Carlisle, but with the most complex cases taken to Carlisle where there would be more intensive care beds.

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said there was "a mixed response" to all the proposals; the statement this afternoon said there was "clear and vocal opposition" where a loss of services was involved.

Cumbrian mum wins air company autism training bid

Neil Smith

South Cumbria journalist, BBC Cumbria

The company Virgin Atlantic is starting a new autism-friendly package holiday service after pressure from a Cumbrian mother.


Deborah Brownson from Barrow says Virgin was the only airline that responded to her calls to reduce the the stress for people with autism, and their families. 

Youngsters on the autistic spectrum, she says, can find flying difficult to deal with because it's outside their normal routine.

It's now training its flight and holiday staff, and children can be shown what it's like on an aeroplane beforehand.

Liberal Democrats 'also have reason to celebrate Copeland'

Liberal Democrats say they're also pleased with the result of the Copeland by-election.

Rebecca Hanson came third for the party, and although a long distance behind second-placed Labour, she was 200 ahead of UKIP's Fiona Mills.

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, said: "We have had another solid result in Copeland, where we were the only non-Brexit party and also stood up for the NHS."

Moss Force takes on Doris

Storm Doris laid down a lot of rain yesterday, one benefit of which was what it did to the county's waterfalls.

Our thanks to Nigel Hollingworth, who sent us this picture of Moss Force in Newlands valley.

Moss Force
Nigel Hollingworth

If you have a photograph you'd like to share, you can   email us  ,   tweet us   or get in touch   through our Facebook page

Report reveals opposition to west Cumbria maternity plans

Martin Lewes


Plans to move consultant-led maternity services out of the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven were opposed by at least 85% of the people who responded to a public consultation, it's been revealed today.

The county's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) published the report this afternoon; what are called "purdah" regulations meant it could not be made public before the Copeland by-election.

West Cumberland Hospital

The Success Regime, the management team brought in to sort out problems at the North Cumbria Hospitals Trust, says recruitment problems mean a number of services including maternity would be better centralised 40-miles away in Carlisle.

You can see the full report here ; the CCG will make a decision on whether to press ahead with the favoured options at a meeting in Workington on 8 March.

United's favourite Tony talks of 'taking one day at a time'

Mike Zeller

Presenter, BBC Radio Cumbria

Former Carlisle United player Tony Hopper, who's guest of honour at this weekend's fixture with Portsmouth, has been talking about living with motor neurone disease.

You can hear the full interview on the sports programme on BBC Radio Cumbria at 18:00 .  

Cumbria's weather: Fine and cool, cloudy later

BBC Weather

Most of the county will have a fine and cold day with much lighter winds and some sunny spells. 

Cloud will thicken from the west with rain and strengthening winds moving into the region around dusk. 

Highs of about 8C (46F).

Weather graphic

You can find the latest weather forecast for where you are, here .

Three badly hurt as crash blocks M6 for hours

Three women from Sedbergh were taken to the Royal Preston Infirmary after a crash yesterday evening that closed the M6 in both directions for about five hours.

The accident happened soon after 19:00, closing all lanes for several hours.

The three were in a Suzuki Baleno that collided with a BMW. Their injuries are said to be serious but not life-threatening. 

The male driver of the BMW, and his female passenger, suffered minor injuries.

Police are appealing for witnesses.

PM hails 'outstanding victory' in Copeland

Prime Minister Theresa May, has called the Conservative win in Copeland "an outstanding victory" on a flying visit to the constituency today.

Last night Trudy Harrison became the first Conservative to represent the seat in more than 80 years.

Mrs May said: "What I think we've seen from this victory is that this truly is a government that is working for everyone and for every part of the country."

Theresa May and Trudy Harrison

Travel: Lindal dip works cause delays

BBC Travel

Temporary traffic lights at Green Lane on the A590 are causing delays.

BreakingPrime Minister visits Millom to welcome new MP

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has been on a flying visit to Millom this lunchtime to welcome her newest MP.

Trudy Harrison made history last night by taking the seat from Millom by more than 2,000 votes .

We'll have more later.

Copeland by-election: Three major problems for Labour

Iain Watson

Political correspondent

Labour's failure to retain Copeland for the first time since the seat was created highlights three interlinked problems for the party.

The most serious is trust - or lack of it.

Labour insiders tell me they "got Jeremy to the right place on nuclear" - by not just committing to retaining the industry but also no longer opposing new capacity.

Yet very few voters here in Whitehaven that I spoke to this morning believed him - and some were still unaware of his position.

The centre of Whitehaven in west Cumbria

The second problem, though, is with Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Even some left-wing MPs tell me his leadership came up completely unprompted on the doorsteps. So messenger and message aren't fully trusted.

The third problem, though, is that while Labour is in opposition nationally - and Jeremy Corbyn says he will take on the political establishment - in areas which the party has controlled for decades it is seen as part of that establishment.

Voter after voter said to me "look at the town centre here" - with pound shops, charity shops and bookies.

"Labour has done nothing for this area, we need new blood," said one. "I am 80 and Labour has been in charge all that time - we need a change," said another.

And that change was from the opposition to the government, standing conventional political wisdom on its head.

Jeremy Corbyn 'disappointed' by Copeland by-election result
The Labour leader has vowed he will fight on, and hailed his party's victory in Stoke.

Former MP: Work goes on after 'catastrophic defeat'

Jamie Reed, whose resignation triggered the Copeland by-election, has tweeted his verdict on the loss of the seat.

View more on twitter

Copeland Mayor Starkie 'shocked' by result

BBC Radio Cumbria

Independent Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie told BBC Cumbria: "The scale of it was a shock, over the course of the night it became more apparent the Conservatives were growing in confidence, like everybody else I was surprised by how large the majority was in the end.

"The Conservatives have taken a seat they haven't held for as long as anyone alive can remember."

Independent Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie

Analysis: May strengthened, anguish for Labour

Norman Smith

Assistant political editor

Theresa May this morning finds her grip on British politics hugely strengthened.

For a governing party after seven years of austerity to be sweeping aside Labour in a heartland seat and to see their share of the vote increase in another is an extraordinary achievement.

It will be taken by her supporters as a vindication of her hard-edged drive towards Brexit and her break with the more metropolitan politics of David Cameron. 

As for Labour, relief that it has at least repulsed the perceived threat of UKIP but its slow painful anguish under Jeremy Corbyn seems set to continue. 

In normal times, both by-elections should have raised barely a flicker of concern and while the slide in support may not ignite a further leadership challenge, the convictions of Mr Corbyn's critics that he is leading the party into the wilderness will only have been strengthened.

Jamie Reed's verdict: Labour vote didn't come out

The former MP Jamie Reed, whose resignation prompted the Copeland by-election, says it was Labour voters staying at home, not changing their allegiance to the Conservatives, that lost the seat.

View more on twitter

Neighbouring Tories welcome Trudy Harrison

Cumbria's newest MP Trudy Harrison has been welcomed by her Conservative colleagues.

View more on twitter

MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson, told BBC Radio Cumbria he was looking forward to working with Mrs Harrison: "We have some common interests, the A595 being the obvious one, we have common interests with regard to the hospitals and the nuclear industry is vital to the whole county, so there's a lot of things where MPs can work together."

The MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson
John Stevenson.

Labour 'may have too much faith in NHS issues'

The Labour Party may have overestimated the NHS in West Cumbria as a trump card to play in the by-election that saw them lose the seat, according to one political expert.

Hospital sign

Campaigners supporting Gillian Troughton, the Labour candidate, saw the threat to move some services from the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven to the Carlisle hospital 40 miles away as a key issue .

But Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, head of politics at Liverpool University, says the party's strategy of focussing on the NHS didn't seem to work for them.

If it hasn't worked in Copeland, it may not work nationally, in spite of this very acute sense of crisis in the NHS.

'Disaster' result, says Barrow's Woodcock

The Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, John Woodcock, says the result of the Copeland by-election is "a disaster".

John Woodcock

The seat was taken from Labour by Conservative Trudy Harrison, who won a majority of more than 2,000 votes.

John Woodcock has been fiercely critical of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and says his party "should admit it's in trouble and has little chance of winning the next general election". 

We are not on course, we are on course to an historic and catastrophic defeat."

John Woodcock
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell says the Copeland result is 'really disappointing'
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell says the Copeland result is 'really disappointing'

Politicians must 'put their money where their mouth is' in Copeland

The Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, who was elected as an Independent, said he was hopeful that Conservative pledges made during the election to increase investment in Copeland would be fulfilled.

Many campaigners visited the county to gather votes for Trudy Harrison, including Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mike Starkie
Mike Starkie

We've had any number of high-profile politicians and ministers in the area all making pledges as to what they intend to do. Now they've got to put their money where their mouth is."

Mike StarkieMayor of Copeland

'Humiliation' is the nationals' word for by-election results

One word resounds through the national press reaction to the Copeland by-election result: Humiliation.

View more on twitter

For the Labour-supporting Mirror , it was a crushing blow for Jeremy Corbyn, and UKIP's humiliation; most of the other nationals, like the  Daily Mail  and the Daily Telegraph , saw the h-word as applying to the Labour leader.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'What the people of this area need'

BBC Politics

Trudy Harrison: "I won because what I represent is what the people of this area need. I know that because I have lived here all of my life."

View more on facebook

The Copeland vote share

BBC Politics

How does the Copeland by-election vote share in 2017 compare to the 2015 general election?


'It's a disaster for us' - Labour MP

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

The by-election result in Copeland is a "disaster" for Labour, says the party's MP in the neighbouring seat. 

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock says Labour are heading for a "historic and catastrophic defeat" in the general election.  

Contrasting lessons for Labour from Copeland and Stoke

The Copeland campaign saw Labour arguably banging its biggest drum, the NHS, but the Conservatives found the nuclear industry, employing more than 10,000 people in the constituency, was the beat the voters preferred.

Labour's campaign manager Andrew Gwynne said the party had a job to do to rebuild its support.

The day's other by-election, in Stoke Central, was seen as testing Labour against a different opponent, UKIP.

Labour's Gareth Snell took the Potteries seat though and UKIP's leader Paul Nuttall came second, only 100 votes ahead of the third-placed Conservative.

Mr Nuttall said his party's time would come.

Mr Snell had this assessment: "Labour's victory in Stoke is a decisive rejection of UKIP's politics of division and dishonesty."

How local newspapers covered the Copeland by-election

The Whitehaven News greeted the Copeland result like this.

View more on twitter
Whitehaven News site
CN group

It was, however, pipped at the post for the basic result by its daily stablemate the News and Star  which, like the county's other daily the North West Evening Mail , part of the same CN Group, went on to share the same front page headline and story.

View more on twitter

'I went for the blue' in Copeland

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Labour has suffered a bruising defeat at the hand of the Conservatives in Copeland, a seat it had held for the past 80 years.

Former Labour voters tell reporter Zoe Conway why they turned to the Tories for the first time. 

By-election turnouts: How do they compare?

A question a lot of people were asking yesterday was how much Storm Doris would affect the turnout. 

Not much more than a third of people eligible to vote in the Stoke Central seat did so, with the turnout standing at 36.7%.

In Copeland, which also suffered the wrath of Storm Doris, 51.27% of voters cast their ballots. 

Ballot box
Getty Images

Taking a look at other recent by-elections, the turnout for Richmond Park in December 2016 was 53.6%. 

In October 2016, Witney was contested after David Cameron stood down as an MP . The turnout there was 46.8%.

On the same October day there was a by-election in Batley and Spen, following the death of Jo Cox

That saw a turnout of just over 25%. However, the main parties opted not to stand against Labour in that contest.

More than half turn out to vote in Copeland

Martin Lewes


The turnout in the Copeland by-election was 51.27%, down nearly 13% on the 2015 general election, but larger than expected.

In comparison, the other by-election in Stoke brought out just 36.69% of voters. That was about 13% down on the 2015 general election figure.

Cumbria's weather: A fine, cool day

BBC Weather

It'll be a cold start with a patchy frost and the risk of ice, particularly on untreated surfaces.

Early weather

You can find the latest forecast for where you are, here .

Was Labour loss a Cumbrian nuclear result?

Labour's record with nuclear issues in Cumbria is mixed. 

Labour held Barrow and Furness, the neighbouring seat to the south, from 1945 until 1983.

Then, with Labour's support for the nuclear-armed submarines built in the shipyard there in question, the Conservative Cecil Franks took the seat.

He held it until 1992.

The moment results were announced

This was the moment the Conservatives discovered they had won the Copeland seat, after more than 80 years of Labour victories.

The returning officer reads the Copeland by-election result, won by the Conservatives.