THERESA May came to East Lancashire today to give the Prime Ministerial seal of approval to a new leisure centre.

She praised Burnley FC in the Community for its role in sponsoring Brierfield’s Leisure Box.

Mrs May said she had never seen a similar centre where the local football club had been so involved in financing and running it.

She watched children playing cricket in its indoor nets and then gasped in amazement as Nelson 10-year-old Samir Chaudhry climbed a tall pole and then swung free from the top.

As well as officially opening the £4.5million centre in the Northlight complex, Mrs May was there with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson to campaign for the Conservatives in next month’s borough elections.

She defended the re-instatement of Earby’s Rosemary Carroll on the night of last year’s poll to give her party a one-seat majority on the council. In a dark suit and red high heels, Mrs May said: “I have never been in a facility like this where the local football club is so involved. It is a wonderful example of partnership working.”

She told Miss Chaudry of her amazement at her bravery on the climbing pole.

The schoolgirl said afterwards: “It was a bit scary. I never thought I’ d be doing something like this for the Prime Minister.”

Mrs May said: “I was tempted to try some of the equipment but I was in my heels.”

The Prime Minister defended her record on Brexit in a borough which voted strongly ‘Leave’ and said electors should vote Conservative for ‘better services with a lower council tax.'

She said: “We are trying to deliver Brexit. It is Labour which is not voting for it. I want us to leave with a deal so the UK can take advantage of the opportunities leaving the EU will offer the UK.”

Mrs May also backed the importance of local newspapers such as the Lancashire Telegraph.

She said: “Local newspapers are important to free speech. I recognise they are facing challenging times but they are trusted by local communities.”

Mrs May said the government was reviewing what could be done to assist local newspapers proser in the future.

Questioned Cllr Carroll’s reinstatement from suspension for sharing racist posts on social media, she said: “She was suspended and properly investigated. She has apologised and undergone diversity training and was then reinstated. That was appropriate and how we do things in the Conservative Party.”

Neil Hart, chief executive of Burnley FC in the community, said: “We are delighted the Prime Minister came to officially open this centre. She was really engaged and fantastic with the children and everybody.”