Boneless hustings in Wellingborough
The three women hoping to become Wellingborough’s MP made their case at a hustings last night- but it was a no-show from Conservative candidate Peter Bone.
Rail services, homelessness, hate crime and of course Brexit were the topics of questioning put forward by the audience at Glamis Hall last night to Suzanna Austin (Liberal Democrat), Marion Turner-Hawes (Green Party) and Andrea Watts (Labour).Extinction Rebellion organisers say Mr Bone had not wanted to attend the hustings because they were the organisers, but when asked this morning by the Local Democracy Reporting Service the Conservative candidate said the date had been set without enquiring whether he was available and he went out campaigning instead. The former MP did take part in a hustings in Rushden the night before.
But despite the absence of the Conservative who will be defending a 12,460 majority, there was plenty of meat on the bone to the hustings as the female candidates gave their views on the issue most concerning Wellingborough people.
The second question of the night concerned why residents should trust the individual candidates and also their party leaders. The question of trust has been a key part of the election, with many across the country saying they now find it hard to believe what politicians say in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
Green Party candidate Marion Turner-Hawes, who is standing for the second time in Wellingborough after winning 2,218 votes in the 2015 election, said: “I think some of you know me and if you do you will know that I am totally trustworthy. People also know that when the Green Party says something we mean it and we have every intention of delivering on our promises. For us the main issue is to tackle the climate emergency and help people lead good lives together.”
Liberal Democrat Suzanna Austin said she could be trusted due to her actions in helping to bring Kettering General Hospital’s understated waiting lists to light.
She said: “Transparency is where Liberal Democrats come into their own. We have a fully costed manifesto and we talk to experts.”
Labour’s Andrea Watts said her decade-plus as a councillor and trade unionist gave her credibility and spoke out against the treatment that party leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced from certain elements of the press.
All three said more should be done to look into the health effects of using rubber crumb on football pitches and Andrea Watts said if she was elected it was an issue she would take up and investigate more about the effects of the chemicals within the rubber crumb.
Asked about hate crime the Green Party and Liberal Democrat candidates both gave personal experiences.
Suzanna Austin said in the past she had been threatened by a man with a hammer and Marion Turners Hawes said her sexuality had led her to be abused.
She said: “The encouragement to hide and be invisible is appalling. That is still there but it is getting better.”
The three candidates were all on message throughout the night, giving answers in line with their national party’s manifesto. They had seen the ten questions in advance and unlike the other two candidates Labour candidate Andrea Watts read from a script for much of the hustings.
All agreed that the cost of trains needed to reduce and that more should be done to campaign against the proposed changed services to the Wellingborough train service.