By Julian Whittle Political editor

Last updated at 11:23, Saturday, 21 April 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron has praised the record of the Conservatives running Carlisle City Council and urged voters to re-elect them on May 3.

David Cameron photo

Mr Cameron was in Carlisle yesterday to deliver a major policy speech on apprenticeships and vocational training. It was also a morale booster for party workers embroiled in a tough battle to keep control of the council, which has been run by the Conservatives since 1999.

Mr Cameron said: “It is always difficult for governments to fight council elections. I hope that people will look at the record of what the Conservatives on Carlisle City Council have done.

“They have frozen council tax and pledged to freeze it for a further two years. At a time when budgets are tight for everyone, you have to ask who is going to provide the best value for money. Conservatives have a good track record on that.”

John Stevenson, the city’s Tory MP, said: “I am delighted that he is coming on a regular basis.

“It demonstrates the significance of Carlisle politically and there is a wider context that places like Carlisle are important to the national economy.”

The visit came weeks after Labour leader Ed Miliband came to Carlisle. Mr Cameron outlined the Government’s strategy on apprenticeships and vocational training to an invited audience of 120 supporters and business people at System Training near Carlisle Airport.

He also chatted to apprentices and met senior executives of System Training, which is the largest logistics driver-training provider in the UK. Mr Cameron said vocational qualifications were just as valid as a university degree.

He outlined how the Government would create more apprenticeships and make vocational qualifications easier to access and more rigorous.

He said: “If we get this right, we will have created a university system open to all and a high-quality vocational system that rewards aspiration and achievement.”

Labour accused Mr Cameron of “complacency”. Dr Joe Hendry, leader of the Labour group on the city council, said: “David Cameron is simply out of touch with the reality of what is happening here in Carlisle and Cumbria.”

First published at 08:59, Saturday, 21 April 2012
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