Hundreds put election hopefuls on the spot at Malvern hustings - The Malvern Observer

Hundreds put election hopefuls on the spot at Malvern hustings

Malvern Editorial 25th Apr, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016   0

THE FIVE politicians vying to represent West Worcestershire in Parliament were challenged at a Malvern church.

More than 300 people packed into Christ Church on Avenue Road on Sunday (April 19) to listen to the views of Harriet Baldwin (Conservative Pary), Richard Chamings (Ukip), Julian Ruskams (Green Party), Daniel Walton (Labour Party) and Dennis Wharton (Liberal Democrat).

The hustings, which was chaired by Peter Buchanan, of Churches Together, saw the candidates tested on a number of issues, including the NHS, immigration and nuclear weapons.

Here is a sample of the some questions and answers:




Do you think the scale of inequality between the wealthiest and the poorest in this country is a problem, and if so, what do you purpose to do about it?

Mr Walton said: “Firstly, we would stop attacking the vulnerable and reappeal the bedroom tax straight away. In Malvern, I stood on the doorstep and watched proud people cry because they can’t afford to eat.


“Just yesterday a couple close to where we are now told me they were getting just one hot meal a week and lived the rest of the week on jam sandwiches because the money they used to buy food with now goes towards the bedroom tax.

“I found myself pointing them to the foodbank in Malvern. This is the UK, it’s 2015 and George Osborne keeps telling us that everything is OK.”

Mr Ruskams said: “We are opposed to inequality. Not just because it is wrong in itself, but because it fosters inappropriate growth.

“We are encouraging to measure our prosperity by comparing the material condition of others. Celebrity culture and the life styles of the rich create a culture of envy and a desire to match it.

“In the sixth richest nation on earth it is wrong they have wrong 1.8million people waiting for housing, it is wrong that one million people rely on foodbanks for their essentials.

“It is time that we got serious about introducing progressive taxation that everyone who can pays their way and everybody benefits.”

How would you cater for the housing needs of all people, regardless of age, income and mental or physical health, citizenship or background?

Mr Wharton said: “The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to build 300,000 houses every year and ensure everyone has a decent place to live.

“These plans would include bringing forward at least ten new garden cities across the county. They would provide tens of thousands of quality new homes and a new housing investment bank to provide long term capital for major development and a new help to rent scheme to help millions of young people who put a deposit down to rent their first home.”

Mr Chamings said: “Whether it’s private, rent, social whatever, we do need more houses. The population of this country has increased by about five million over the last ten years. We want to priorities brown-field sites as there are enough of those in the country to build another one million homes over the next four years.

“There are also 1,028 empty houses in the Malvern Hills area which could be brought back into use.

“Ultimately some houses might have to be built on green-field sites, but it is important that if this happens local people have their last say and it not decided by a Government inspector.”

What are your views on the NHS as a service to provide free health care at the point of need?

Mrs Baldwin said: “I would like to highlight our track record during this last parliament. Locally we have the new Malvern Community Hospital and the new Oncology Centre which is going to save millions of miles of journeys for cancer patients in this area.

“In 2010, the NHS budget was £100 billion for the whole country and now it has gone up to £113billion which has enabled more money to go into our local hospital.

“Of course we need more staff and we have spelt out in our manifesto how we are going to have an extra £8billion for the NHS in England we are going to make sure we focus on quality and the patient.”

Mr Walton said: “Locally we have got 3,300 more people on waiting lists than we did in 2010 and the response times are increasing.

“In order to maintain the NHS to the point of use we need to create a time to care fund and we need to support it properly. We also need more doctors and nurses as there are less GPs per head compared to 2010.

“We can’t risk what could happen with the NHS over the next five years.”

Do you believe immigration past and present has benefited and continues to benefit our country and why do you hold this belief?

Mr Chamings said: “Things have gone too far and the actual numbers coming in are outweighing the benefits they provide.

“About 300,000 migrants came in last year, which is like a city the size of Portsmouth and they are coming into the country every year.

“The immigration situation we have at the moment is changing the fabric of our society as it is putting a lot of our public services under pressure.

“We don’t want to drop the drawbridge, but we want to control the people which come through.”

Mr Wharton said: “I do believe that immigration has benefited and continues to benefit our country enormously. The NHS would collapse overnight if we did not have those immigrants working for our service.

“We will say yes to doctors, experts, entrepreneurs and investors, but we will say no to crooks, traffickers and those who would damage our country.

“There is need to bring back proper boarder checks, which is something we have in our manifesto, so we know who is coming in and leaving the UK and we will identify and report people who overstay their VISA.”

How do you think spending £100 billion on renewing Trident would increase the security of the UK, given the threats which the country faces?

Mr Roskams said: “The Green Party opposes the renewal of Trident. I can envisage no circumstances in which we would resort to nuclear weapons to settle a dispute.

“We no longer live in the cold war. The only purpose of maintaining the nuclear weapons is to give Britain status, but it is time we gave up acting as the world’s policeman and stop fighting other people’s wars, which have served only to bring terrorism to our shores.”

Mrs Baldwin said: “I do believe the most important responsibility of the Government is to ensure the peace and the security of the nation. That means meeting our NATO commitment this year to spend more than two per cent of our national income on defence. It means that we should be renewing our independent nuclear deterrent.

“I am all in favour of a world free of nuclear weapons, but I don’t want us to give them up on a unilateral basis.

“I think we need to negotiate a world free of nuclear weapons rather than giving up our own.”

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