Meet Trudy Harrison: Copeland’s new MP

On February 23, Trudy Harrison’s by-election success made history as she became Copeland’s first Conservative MP in over 80 years. Sarah Sinclair caught up with her to discuss her first few weeks in parliament and her vision for West Cumbria.

 It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Copeland’s new MP, Trudy Harrison, as she adjusts to her new role, representing the people of West Cumbria and finds her feet in the Houses of Parliament. Her office is situated in one of the furthest perimeters of the parliamentary site, and when the division bell goes she has just eight minutes to run to chamber, usually getting lost en route. This aside, it is apparently a very friendly place, where her peers have been “incredibly friendly and supportive.”

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Trudy may be new to the House of Commons, but she is no stranger to political and community activism. Her involvement with politics has spiralled impressively since she moved to Bootle from Whitehaven in 2002. She initially joined the PTA at her eldest daughter’s school to help increase funding; from there she became a school governor and learnt that the village was in decline, having lost 20 businesses in 20 years. As a member of the Parish council, Trudy and others formed a community action plan in a bid to increase the population, change the demographic and breathe new life into the village for future generations.

In 2010 her efforts got her a job as Regeneration Officer for Copeland Borough Council, where she managed to secure the Lake District National Park’s biggest consent, to turn the desolated former MoD camp Wellbank into an exemplar sustainable development. The project will provide 50 homes, a hotel with conferencing facilities and an enterprise area with construction starting this year. Now, Trudy believes, is the time to make the most of what Copeland as a whole has to offer.

She said: “The reason I decided to stand was because I think it is an unprecedented opportunity for our area to capitalise on Moorside. Having lived in Copeland all my life and bringing up my four teenage daughters here, I just feel that now is the time to make the most of what is coming our way, to ensure we leave a transformational legacy.”

Making the most of Moorside is a theme that featured heavily in Trudy’s by-election campaign. She has pledged to ensure that the area delivers on the nuclear new build and offers opportunities for our younger generations by providing degree level apprenticeships. As with many of the candidates, Trudy promised to fight for the West Cumberland Infirmary and she has already began work on a promotional campaign and has met with health bosses.

She said: “I’m speaking with other hospitals to see how they’ve gone about recruitment in a more innovative way and where it has worked, learning from those lessons and implementing them in West Cumbria.”

Trudy voted to Leave the EU in the Referendum last year and will be making sure our area makes the most of the opportunities this offers. She is setting up a business forum to help her understand the needs and concerns of local businesses and ensure their views are heard in parliament, as well as making sure local people have the most up to date information as we reach the next stage of Brexit negotiations.

Trudy added: “I know that people are concerned about foreign nationals living in our constituency and if they will be able to do that and I will certainly be making sure that we send the message out that they are most welcome.”

She continued: “Living in a little village, we felt we were never anybody’s political priority ten years ago, so who’d of believed that we would welcome the prime minister last month. I think it’s testament that, dare to dream, small villages can be in control of their own destiny and towns can to. I want to enable people in the constituency to realise the full potential of where they live.”

 Trudy’s promises:

  • Protecting local jobs and industry: Ensuring our whole local economy benefits from the Moorside plans.
  • Making the most of Moorside: To bring funding to maintain and improve local services like the NHS. A new nuclear plant means more jobs, with more people bringing home a pay packet every week.
  • Skills training & apprenticeships for more local people: Since 2010 thousands of young people locally have started an apprenticeship, and I know my daughter wants to start one too.
  • Improving rural broadband: I know that we need better broadband across Copeland and rural Cumbria.
  • Making a success of Brexit for Cumbria: This by-election is our chance to send a message that the EU referendum result must be respected, and to back Theresa May’s plan to deliver what local people voted for.
  • Flood Prevention, infrastructure, & better public transport: Our communities need better roads and better infrastructure.

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