LABOUR leader Ed Miliband brought his election campaign trail to Flintshire and Chester.
The man bidding to become the nation’s next Prime Minister visited Asda in Queensferry as well as the 1539 restaurant overlooking Chester’s Roodee Racecourse as his party looks to be first past the post on May 7.
He addressed party members and took time out for selfies with shoppers during his whistlestop tour to whip up support just weeks before voters go to the polls.
Leader reporter Robert Doman caught up with Mr Miliband on his campaign bus to quiz him about issues such as maternity services in North Wales and Wrexham’s new super prison while the Labour politician identified Chester as a key seat in this year’s election race.
Arriving in Chester to cheers from party members on the balcony of the 1539 restaurant at about 3.30pm on Saturday, Mr Miliband said: “This election will come down to a few hundred votes in a few dozen constituencies and Chester is one of those.
“We have brilliant people like Chester candidate Chris Matheson to help us.
“I’m really enjoying the visit. I’ve had a brilliant welcome from Chris and the people of Chester.
“People of Chester have a big choice and Chris is running a really good campaign.
“I think things have been going well and I love being out on the campaign trail.”
Mr Miliband then journeyed to Queensferry, speaking with staff and shoppers after being greeted by crowds of shoppers both inside and outside the store.
“It has been really interesting talking to Asda staff here,” he said. “They raise some of the same issues we hear about in other parts of the country.
“The cost of living is an issue. Lots of people are really up against it.
“There is a sense of feeling that things are not really fair at the moment.”
But he also took time out to speak with the Leader about some of the other issues affecting the area at local levels, with issues such as the temporary downgrading of maternity services at Glan Clwyd Hospital ranking highly his thoughts.
“I know there is a judicial review going on into the question of maternity services in North Wales,” he said.
“I think the most important priority for me is having safe services for mothers and babies. There is nothing more important than that.
“There is pressure on health services across the United Kingdom and that is why our promises are so important.
“It is important they receive proper funding and a proper costed plan.”
Mr Miliband has also outlined plans to provide an extra £350 million in funding to Welsh Government and said: “The money being pledged to Welsh Government by us can help cushion the blow for local authorities.
“We don’t want working people to feel like they are paying the price for hard times.
“We have to make sure the burden is equally shared.”
But he was cautious on the question of privatising Wrexham's new super prison and said: “I think you have to look carefully at what the best way forward is.”
He added: “Any future cuts would have a massive impact on policing but people want to see more police on the streets.”
David Hanson, Delyn candidate for Labour, who has represented the constituency for more than 20 years, said: “I think it is important that Ed Milliband is the first party leader to visit Flintshire during this campaign.
“It sends a signal that he is interested in the county.
“Flintshire’s Labour council is committed to building council houses and protecting services but it needs the support of a Welsh Labour Government but also a Labour Government in Westminster.”
Mark Tami, Labour’s Alyn and Deeside candidate, said: “It is great to have Ed Miliband here and good to see the warm welcome he's had.”
See full story in the Chester Leader