PRIME Minister Boris Johnson said investment in the NHS, housing and skills was the way to tackle East Lancashire’s health inequalities when he visited Burnley.

The PM praised the town’s college as “really fantastic” and dismissed opposition claims ‘Partygate’ would hit the Conservatives in Thursday’s local elections.

He spoke to the Lancashire Telegraph after touring its advanced manufacturing and engineering department including its robotics laboratory and talking to students.

Mr Johnson was tackled on the historical health inequalities that caused the pandemic to hit East Lancs, particularly Blackburn with Darwen, so hard.

He said: “We’ve got to invest more in our NHS. That’s what we’re doing. The health and care levy enables us to do this. I think we’re doing five more hospitals in the north west.

"It’s also about the staff. It’s about pairs of hands. It’s about people who are able to give you the care and attention you need.

“Housing is vital. The crucial thing is to make sure people have access to good quality housing whether it is social, market rent or to buy.

"If you look what Conservatives have achieved, we have built many, many more houses than Labour did. We try to build them where they will be welcomed by local people.

Build them on brownfield sites, so many of which you find in this part of the world.”

He also praised the facilities on offer at Burnley College, adding: “Coming to a place like this with the incredibly positive attitude there is here working with businesses - some very cutting edge companies - that is going to be transformative.

"That’s why we’re putting money into skills and the further education sector. The levelling-up agenda drives high-wage, high-skill jobs.

“If you invest in better skills, better health care, better education you’re going to make the whole of the north west a more attractive place for businesses to invest in and that drives the growth in incomes that you want to see.”

Asked if ‘Partygate’ would affect the local election results, Mr Johnson said: “I expect that people will decide that they want to support the party which is focussed on the issues which really, really change their lives.

“Whether it’s helping to deal with pressure on family budgets, fixing our energy supply problems, making sure we have good councillors who get up early, work hard on their behalf and make sure the potholes are fixed, make sure that the bin collections are done, or making sure they don’t charge too much council tax. That’s us.”