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Essex: If it’s Monday it must be Chelmsford, or is that Colchester, for Prime Minister David Cameron on regional tour

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 April 2014

David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith (left), during a visit to Colchester Jobcentre - which is due to close soon.

David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith (left), during a visit to Colchester Jobcentre - which is due to close soon.

Their parties may be in coalition in Westminster, but veteran LibDem MP Sir Bob Russell has launched a broadside at Conservative David Cameron after the Prime Minister’s visit to Colchester on Monday.

During a speech at the Colchester Job Centre, Mr Cameron confused Colchester with Chelmsford . . . twice.

And the High Street Job Centre that Mr Cameron visited is due to close its doors later this year – forcing benefit claimants to go to another office in a government building away from the town centre.

Sir Bob, who describes himself as “the Voice of Colchester” was surprised that the Prime Minister made the Chelmsford gaffe twice.

He said: “To have said it once could have excused as a slip of the tongue, but to do it twice is very careless. I wonder if he was properly briefed by his staff.

“Colchester is much more important than Chelmsford. It has real history going back to the Romans.

“Colchester was the major town in Britain and Chelmsford was the Roman equivalent of a Little Chef on the road to London!”

Sir Bob also played up the friendly rivalry between the two centres, which took a new twist two years ago when Chelmsford became a city for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“As I say to my friends from Chelmsford, the best thing about the place is the road out – to Colchester!”

He was irritated that there was no mention of the government’s decision to close the High Street Job Centre.

“At the moment the office is on the High Street, and is very easy for people to get to and to look for work.

“Now the clients will have to go to the Crown Building which is a dreadful tower block built on a bit of land cleared by the Luftwaffe and some way from the High Street on Chapel Street, South.

“At least there is a pub next door to it, which might be convenient for some people!”

A spokesman for Number 10 said: “A lot has been made of a slip of the tongue by the Prime Minister which he corrected immediately.

“So far as the Job Centre is concerned that is a matter for the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) but the new offices will be more modern and will have all the facilities that are currently available at the premises the Prime Minister visited yesterday.”

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