Defending Rossendale and Darwen Conservative candidate Sir Jake Berry and his Labour General Election opponent Andy MacNae have clashed over the state of NHS dentistry in the constituency.

Mr MacNae has claimed that across Rossendale and Darwen his party estimated 270 zero to 19-year-olds have had teeth removed due to poor oral health.

He added that in the constituency it is estimated 16.6 per cent of children have decayed, missing and filled teeth.

Mr MacNae, a former Rossendale Council regeneration boss, said: "This is having a knock-on impact on the wellbeing of children and young people.

Andy MacNae attacked the Conservatives' record on dentistryAndy MacNae attacked the Conservatives' record on dentistry

"A recent NHS survey found that in the North West 1.1 per cent of Year Six students didn’t want to talk because of the state of their teeth or mouth.

"These shocking statistics show how children's oral health in Rossendale and Darwen has borne the brunt of 14 years of Conservative failure.

"Only Labour has a plan to reform the dental contract so that children who need to see an NHS dentist will be able to see one."

Jake Berry said he knows the importance of improving children's oral healthJake Berry said he knows the importance of improving children's oral health

Sir Jake said: "As a father of three young children, I know how important it is that we prioritise our children’s dental health.

"That’s why the Conservative Government has invested a record amount in our NHS including dentistry.

"As of June 12, there are at least four dental practices across Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen council areas accepting new NHS patients.

"Perhaps residents of Rossendale and Darwen would find it easier to find the dental care they need if the Labour candidate had not voted to back the building of thousands of homes without appropriate infrastructure and against residents' will."

The full list of election candidates in Rossendale and Darwen is: Ali Tayab - Workers Party of Britain; Bob Bauld – Green Party; Sir Jake Berry – Conservative Party; Rowan Fitton – Liberal Democrats; Andy MacNae – Labour Party; and Daniel Matchett – Reform UK.