Election 2015: Chichester University students grill parliamentary candidates

Students from the University of Chichester, and members of the public, grill the prospective parliamentary candidates PICTURE BY LOUISE ADAMS
Students from the University of Chichester, and members of the public, grill the prospective parliamentary candidates PICTURE BY LOUISE ADAMS
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PARLIAMENTARY candidates have been grilled on a range of hot election issues.

Students and residents alike jumped at the chance to quiz them at a hustings event held by the University of Chichester student union and department of history and politics.

Listening intently to the debate at Chichester University

Listening intently to the debate at Chichester University

The lively debate was hosted by politics lecturer Oliver Daddow and facing scrutiny was Labour candidate Mark Farwell, UKIP candidate Andrew Moncrieff, Jasper Richmond from the Green Party, and Lib Dem candidate Andrew Smith.

Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie was represented by Gillian Keegan, a Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for the St Helen’s South and Whiston constituency on Merseyside.

She is also a candidate in the elections for Chichester District Council, defending her seat for the Tories at Rogate.

Valerie Briginshaw asked: “What are you going to do to help graduates get a decent wage and an affordable place to live?”

Mark Farwell (Labour)

Mark Farwell (Labour)

Mr Smith said: “There is not enough house-building in the area.

“We need quality jobs, more houses being built and hopefully, at some point, we will have a situation where people can aspire to own a home in this constituency.”

Ms Keegan said the Conservative’s priority was to help graduates get the right skills to help them into their chosen careers.

She added: “We are committed to building 200,000 new homes and would introduce the ‘right to buy ISA’ if we are elected.”

The candidates are grilled

The candidates are grilled

“Local Authorities don’t build houses anymore,” said Mr Farwell.

“Many houses, including in this constituency, are built on other people’s money.”

The Green Party planned to help graduates, said Green candidate Mr Richmond, by introducing a living wage of £10 an hour and build more social housing.

The candidates agreed more halls of residence should be built to help university students live at an affordable rate, and stop landlords taking advantage of their young tenants.

Mark Farwell (Labour) and Andrew Smith (Liberal Democrat)

Mark Farwell (Labour) and Andrew Smith (Liberal Democrat)

Questioner Stuart Bellenie asked: “What does the panel think of help with energy bills for the working class and poor?”

Mr Richmond said fuel poverty was ‘a big issue’ for the Green Party, with the country currently ‘at the beck and call of a bunch of companies’.

Terry Mahoney asked: “Given Chichester has a huge majority for Conservatives wouldn’t proportional representation make voting more worthwhile here?”

Mr Moncrieff said: “I don’t think anybody knows what the outcome of this election will be. If anybody tells you they do, they are either a fool or a liar.

“I don’t think how many seats UKIP gets this time is important. I think how many seats we come second in is important. I am looking not to this election, but to the next election. They are flocking to UKIP in the north of the country and I think you might get a surprise.”

Student Keith Sinclair wanted to know what the parties planned to do about debt.

Andrew Smith (Liberal Democrat) and Jasper Richmond (Green)

Andrew Smith (Liberal Democrat) and Jasper Richmond (Green)

He said: “To what extent do the panel and their parties stand on clearing the deficit, and to what time frame are they working so that we may see an end to the immorality of burdening the generation of tomorrow with our spending today?”

Mr Moncrieff said UKIP would ‘find over 30 billion pounds’ to clear the deficit and had ‘spelt out’ where the money would come from.

Ms Keegan said: “Who’s going to pay for all of this?

“The people in this room, and that’s not fair.

“We ask for another five years to get rid of the debt.”

David Gaylard asked what parties would do to ‘address the pressing issues regarding local adult social care’.

Mr Moncrieff said UKIP would ‘put money back into social care and frontline services’.

Mr Smith said the NHS was the ‘number one issue.’

“There is no question there needs to be better communication between health services,” he added.

What are the issues that really matter to voters? Find out at What Matters To Me. Upload your own views.

Andrew Moncrieff (UKIP)

Andrew Moncrieff (UKIP)

Jasper Richmond (Green) and host Oliver Dadow

Jasper Richmond (Green) and host Oliver Dadow

Gillian Keegan representing Andrew Tyrie (Cons) and Andrew Moncrieff (UKIP)

Gillian Keegan representing Andrew Tyrie (Cons) and Andrew Moncrieff (UKIP)

Students turned up for the hustings debate

Students turned up for the hustings debate