VIDEO: Cameron visit - PM defends controversial pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire

5:30pm Thursday 8th May 2014

By Kate Wilson

PRIME Minister David Cameron spoke to workers at the Renishaw factory in Woodchester during a visit earlier today, Thursday.

Staff also had the chance to quiz the PM with questions ranging from the rise of UKIP to the state of the roads in the county.

The visit was part of a tour of the south west ahead of this month’s Euro and local elections.

Mr Cameron told the hundreds of Renishaw employees that in the budget speech Chancellor George Osborne emphasised that while the economy is doing better it is important to invest more into science research and development.

“It is important that Britain is a manufacturing nation therefore we need an economy that is more broadly based that can compete and succeed in the world and Renishaw does that,” added Mr Cameron.

During a Q&A session with the Prime Minister, Renishaw employees asked about Nigel Farage and the UKIP and how much of a threat they are to Conservative votes.

Stroud is a key marginal seat in next year’s general election.

Recently Caroline Stephens has announced her decision to run as a parliamentary candidate for UKIP in the general election.

Conservative Neil Carmichael defeated former Labour MP David Drew by just 1,299 votes in 2010 therefore the introduction of a UKIP candidate could have a great impact on the election.

The Prime Minister said he viewed Mr Farage as ‘threat to Britain’s economy’ as a result of his Party’s desire to withdraw Britain from the European Union.

He explained that Britain benefits from being in the EU.

“We are a trading nation and therefore we need open markets in order to sell goods and services.

“Yes there needs to be reforms in Europe but EU membership gives Britain the chance to have a say on those reforms,” he said.

In relation to Mr Farage’s ‘threat’ to Conservative votes the Prime Minister said that politics is about choice.

“All I can say to voters is don’t give up and take on a pessimistic view. Let’s instead be optimistic about what Britain can do in the world.”

Another staff member asked the Prime Minister if he noticed the large number of potholes during his drive into Gloucestershire and whether he planned to spend money on fixing current infrastructure rather than the HS2 high-speed rail line.

Mr Cameron also fielded questions on the amount given to foreign aid, Scottish independence and pupil premiums.

Speaking to regional media, including the SNJ, the Prime Minister defended the Government’s decision to continue with the four-year pilot badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire despite abandoning plans to extend the cull to other areas.

Mr Cameron said bovine TB causes ‘an enormous amount of suffering’ and costs the tax payer £5million “The pilot culls should continue because it is part of a plan to deal with this dreadful disease,” he added.

“Difficult long-term decisions are not always popular but it is an improvement on the last government which stuck their head in the sand.”

The Prime Minister also responded to comments made last month when a life-long Conservative voter from Horsley asked planning minister Nick Boles to apologise to Stroud MP Neil Carmichael for ‘costing him his seat’ in next year’s general election.

Mr Boles, who is parliamentary under secretary of state for planning, was meeting residents from Leonard Stanley to discuss the National Planning Policy Framework and its implications in the Stroud district.

Mr Cameron stressed the importance for local authorities to put a local plan in place.

“We all know houses need to be built locally and by adopting a local plan local authorities can steer the decision making process.

The Prime Minister also stressed that when a local authority is gauging a planning application it is ‘able to look at pre-existing plans and pre-existing policies’ when making its decision.

Mr Cameron last visited the district in January, 2010 as leader of the opposition when he toured Rowcroft Medical Centre in Stroud and discussed Conservative plans for NHS reform.

(video PA Videowire)

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