Staff member says local people were excluded from campaign speech at Leeds centre that helps former prisoners.
Jeremy Corbyn has criticised Theresa May for speaking at a Leeds community regeneration project to a crowd of Conservative activists, rather than users of the building who said they had left for the day before she arrived.
The prime minister spoke to around 150 cheering Tory activists gathered at Shine, which houses small businesses in the local area. Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public” by speaking only to her activists. Richard Burgon, the area’s Labour MP, said the prime minister had missed an opportunity to speak to users of the project, who include female former prisoners.
“She won’t take part in TV debates and she won’t talk to voters,” Corbyn said. “Refusing to debate Labour in this election isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness. What is she afraid of? Voters deserve to know what political parties are offering.”
Rik Kendell, who is based in the building, said he had been looking forward to hearing May speak, though he said he was not a Conservative supporter.
“I found this deeply disappointing. I had no plans to vote for Mrs May but I’m well aware of the positive effect that seeing a speech in person from such a powerful, motivated public figure can have,” Kendell told the Guardian. “I had a similar opportunity with both David Cameron and Gordon Brown when I worked in radio and it was very inspiring.”