Brentford General Election Hustings - The Transcript

Ann Keen has a 'prior engagement' despite six weeks notice


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General Election Hustings

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This is a rough and ready transcript that should hopefully give you all the flavour of what was said, even if it's not in complete sentences.

Over 200 people attended Thursday's hustings which was introduced by Peter Hughes, President of Brentford Chamber of Commerce and chaired by Luke Kirton, Brentford's former councillor.

In attendance were Andrew Dakers, Lib Dems (A), John Hunt, Green (J), Steve Curran standing in for Ann Keen (AK), Labour (S), Mary Macleod, Conservatives (M) and Teresa Vanneck-Surplice, Independent (T).

What follows is topic, followed by question, with name of questioner if noted, followed by a precis of answers.

Following jeers at Steve's presence, public disorder ensues at lack of Ann's presence. S announces AK will be at Chiswick hustings next week. Jeers and applause follows with cries of 'that's why we're here, to see her'

(Neil Chippendale) about Lionel Road
A - smooth planning procedure and will support
J - support in principle for benefit to community although not a football fan
M - I was there for last match of last season, they got promoted, training ground for olympics, most importantly for work in community
T - don't know enough but important for community and young people
S - AK has fully supported BFC and move to Lionel Rd


Sheila Richards, gap between rich and poor measures to reduce
J - 1/4 of manifesto of economy and social justice, reforming tax system, healthy living, healthier homes, whole manifesto permeated by measures to improve social equality
M - NHS incredibly important and need same quality of service no matter where you are; commitment to increase NHS funding year on year (that and aging population), find improvement in services
T - NHS wonderfuly beautiful and necessary, alarmed at talk of hospitals closing,another 400 managers recently appointed, compared to seeing a matron when she was younger, all 3 times she went to hospitals for stays she never saw a manger, rather spend money on nurses and doctors
S Ann is ex-nurse. Commitment to health service is unparalleled, clear pathways, ease of access
A - £20m debt carried by local PCT, board has finally started calling for cancellation of debts so can carry on dealing with the business of new GP practice in Brentford

? Life shortening coronary heart disease, dementia
M - all conditions should get support they need, move money from back to front line patient care
T - make it quite a prioirty to see how we are treating these infirmities, hope can do something
S - lots of care groups that require support. Supporting people in home and community, improve interagency working
A - comes back to huge competition for funding, scrap strategic health authoirities, 220k adminstrators, 160k beds so imbalance, more accountability at local level, Lib Dems suggest make PCT boards elected, personally has mixed feelings but we should try as pilot (applause)
J - commitment to increasing funding for mental health and dementia, 7 years ago when parents died so appalled by what he saw in hospitals, he joined local public and patient forum, supposed to let public and patients have a say.Didn't happen, retrained as a nurse and qualified a year ago. Meantime forum has been scrapped. Also for local people to get involved in Link, not just for MPs. Get involved in what's happening and it's up to you

Electoral Reform
Tom from Isleworth Vote Clegg - get Brown, vote tactically, absurd system
T - is standing as Independent due to problem of whips in parliament voting people to vote by party, there is no party you can always agree with, two party system out of date (applause)
S - agree with AD that we need reform in House of Lords, should not be hereditary peers
A - proportional representation. If faced with hung parliament then debate is to be had to how to move forwards. AV / STV or some combination, wrong that Green party has no voice, be better for all (applause)
J - Green voice in local and Europe, only Westminster where have no voice, half a percent of electorate exercise any choice, additional vote system, fully elected Lords
M - anything can happen this election, nobody should be complacent so all votes are critical, good for democracy that polls are looking close, means people are looking at parties more closely, need new style of politics, bored of slanging matches, clean up politics, expenses scandal complete and utter outrage, need new people in Commons who really want to make a difference (applause), cut cost of Parliament, reduce by MPs by 10%, cut quangos, more open and transparent form e.g. expenses and donations should be visible, and you should be accountable to electorate, substantially elected house of lords (applause)

Conal - party funding - non dom tax dodger funding party? (applause)
S - high quality gloss Tory adverts funded by Lord Ashcroft (cries of no from Conservatives) (heckled by someone re Unite), clear need for reform for party funding, individuals should not be able to bank roll parties (heckled re Blair 4 tax havens)
A - been affected less than others, but have been, mistaken donation from dodgy background, need to get big money out of politics, shouldn't need huge level of gloss, more use of internet, contained spending, level playing field
J - large donations from private or trade unions should cease, state funding for parties, level playing field (applause)
M -  facts are Ashcroft has given no money direct to her campaign, has had money from Conservative central office in previous years, but none this year. Of the contribution from the office 2% from Ashcroft and rest from whoever. Change needs to happen. DC said how it was important to have cap on donations, anyone in Parliament must be full UK tax payer, need to be agreed by all parties, no to state funding, people should get involved in process, do local fundraising, not just money that makes effective campaign, also having local candidate, local MP, can understand local issues and address thenm (applause)
T - appalled by expenses, complete change in Commons on this , served community mostly in education, never had extra money for supervising teachers, will put in no claims


Grahame - Digital Economy Bill, copyright law, broadband, C4, hands over control from judiciary to business
J - before nurse was in IT, hasn't followed this particular bill at all, Greens want to reduce length of time that copyright applies and make things easier, remove penalties against people where isn't really any crime involved
M - also worked in IT for some years, DEB not fit for purpose, not enough debate, important part of life need to look at again
T - not qualified to give an answer so, interested in budget, half of job is parliament, half is constituent based, far too many lawyers and accountants, they know how to spend our money, but not how to create it, not doing enough to support small businesses in start up grants etc. Universities do research that could be turned into businesses but they keep it. Want universities to link up with small businesse. Give tax credits
S - global problem. Don't want to criminalise young people. Shouldn't download and fileshare. Ensure artists receive their royalties. Might be viewed as sledgehammer to crack a nut
A - can see twitter as means for campaigning, much on DEB, freedom of speech, who has power to decide, shouldn't be business, lobbied Lib Dems national position who voted against in washup. Lesson for parliament to learn about not creating large bills in rush (applause)

? Britain's manufacturing base?
M - UK manufacturing on decline, moving India, focus on supporting  business here, supporting start ups, stop NIC increases, tax on jobs, (applause), cut corporation tax, give business entrepreneurs support they need (applause)
T - 150 years ago heavy industry not wanted anymore and we don't want to go back to it, research and commitment to small business using technical skills and national talent for innovation
S - invest in education, access to university, encourage young people to go hi tech, required skills in university to real world
A - Supporting group of MPs looking at skills in UK economy and local conersations with businesses - frustration that not getting value for their local business rates (which go into central pot), not enough spent on economic development, identify required skills, most aren't looking for graduates but apprenticeships (applause), balance completely wrong, essential as naiton gets poorer that we take up more manufacturing, what's the 5-10 year plan (applause)
J - faced by climate change, need to invest seriuosly in renewable energy, improving public transport, create million jobs/training places in first year, reducing defense expenditure and redeploy skills into renewable energy, adjust small taxes etc.

Jon Bradley -compensation package for airline industry?
T - difficult question, it is an act of god, don't know what we can do about that.
S - personally, as doesn't know Ann's views on this, (heckle) insurance companies should repay people for their losses, air companies have made enough profits and should be ready for rainy day
A - this is what insurance is for, for airlines, government may be able to provide short term loans if necessary
J - although an atheist, agree it's an act of god, no sympathy for compensating airlines, has sympathy for airlines being demanded compensation by passengers. Too much of a compensation culture. Many more forms of disruption will arrive when climate change kicks in more seriously. Need to be more self-sufficient.
M - not sure what Tory policy, personally think wouldn't compensate airlines, feels sorry for travellers


Sara - governor at St Paul's, secondary school placement being excluded (applause) lots of children not getting any of choices - who is going to do what (large applause)

M - school governor too, children need their local education, across the borough there are just enough places, but they don't necessarily get school of choice, need to build a new Academy school which has been committed to by Conservatives, teachers or locals can create new schools, and current schools should have highest standards possible (applause)
T - radical solution, derelict land along the river should be purchased for secondary school and housing, primary school is extremely important, has found location for new primary school. Education second most important after health
S - it's only now that Tories are starting to think about this issue, should have been started 4 years ago (heckles), desperatly need new secondary school, Ruth and Matt have been inundated with support
A - Brentford Community Council has been shouting about for last 6 years, dates back to BAAP some 10 years ago. BCC said we needed an additional school and health care and authorities haven't taken notice, new director of education has faced up to problems, have raised concerns about how to expand, not seen enough local involvment of area committee and councillors, don't think academy is only solution, would like to see discussion with local community and councillors looking at range of options. Where do we build a new school. Council owns very little land so probably looking at expansion of existing secondary schools, possibly making one co-educational (applause)
J - no-one is going to solve this tonight, smaller class sizes, train more teachers, where do teachers come from to teach in a new school, both teachers and nurses cannot find work, local disagreement locally about how many people we have living in borough so difficult to then plan places, no instant solutions, raise standards so can send child to local school without parents having to worry about whether it's good enough.

Hazel - literacy problems, library and information manifesto with 6 points
including school libraries should be statutory?

J - half population have reading skills of 11 year old, low literacy skills in prisons, opposed to academies
M - everyone should leave school reading and writing, wouldn't necessaritly make it compulsory but in curriculum, should maintain libraries in local communities and share resources
T - hardly a school without one, should be part of local authority's duty, more important to look at quality of teachers and pay them reasonable salary, proper pay, teachers leaving after 5 years because can't manage on salary
S - can't answer, assume most schools want to have a library, important that have community libraries, toy libraries (cheers from the Toy Library) and IT libraries
A - have been lobbied a lot on this one, should make libraries statutory, young offenders in Feltham find very difficult to make progress on literacy, in rural areas can be a practical problem, may be sharing libraries between schools, not just books

Airpot expansion & transport
Brian Fisher - third runway, in particular will labour party voting against community as did with local PO
A - always opposed expansion and third runway, attended 2007 climate camp heathrow for summer holidays and witnessed police brutality at end of week, Jan 2010 Labour said abandon Cranford agreement and we need to get this back in place, one route is for local authorities to co-operate and put this before parliament as primary legislation
J - living downwind of Hethorw is bad for your health, data showing this in 90s but not allowed to be published, was in climate camp and arrested, not in favour of third runway or expansion or expansion of aviation anywhere, no night flights (applause)
M - wanted Ann to be here to answer this question, wanted to know what she had done. will do everything to stop third runway, 94% of locals are against due to noise, pollution, congestion etc., important to local residents, absolutely block third runway, continue and say no to ending Cranford, where was Ann Keen when runway alternation went through parliament. Selected 2-3 years ago and Conservatives had no position on this, lobbied Boris Johnson and shadow cabinet, looked at economic case and made party change their minds. This is why you need a local MP (applause))
T - No no no, have a pilot's licence, develop city airport and on east side of London for European flight for business travellers and Hetthrow remain long haul destination, could manage without 3rd runway
S - not just for Brentford, it's national issue, business is in favour of third runway, AK has tirelessly opposed 3R, taken delegations and petitions to prime minister, has lobbied transport minister. She lost the political arguement. Still subject to judicial review. Boris wants to use Kent estuary, expansion at Stansted and Gatwick. National debate needed as national issue. It was a Tory motion (that M mentioned)

High Street & Planning

(? lives on Dock) recently moved, 70 years after dock blitzed and it still looks like Third Man, extraordinay, what's going on (applause)
J - not privileged to inside information, in favour of promoting local communities and amenities
M - desperately need to be done, developers haven't asked for planning permission, can try and encourage them to develop plans, is seeing them next week
T - problem is really for local council, very difficult to get anything done, Albany Square had little trees and they've grown into big ones which make it look very dark and unattractive and lots of dead leaves. Sent letters to councils and councillors in despair trying to get things done
S - like BFC has been going on since he moved here 14 years ago. Disappointing council haven't moved quickly. Present council have met with developers twice in 4 years (jeers from Conservatives present, including Peter Thompson)
A - re CPOs (compulsory purchase orders) - council hasn't got lots of assets to throw at CPOs. would be inappropriate for this scheme. When first elected commited to make high street a personal priority, set up cross party steering group in 2007 asked community what they wanted and their comprehensive report of what community wanted is online, won national award in 2008. Then economic situations started to hit and developers hit, number of short term interventions such as short term car park, had a cross party workshop with Ballymore a few weeks ago to have deeper look.

International Conflict
David, Isleworth - defense - replacement of Trident or not? Labour want full replacement for 100 billion, not mentioned in manfiesto, Conservatives given support, Lib Dems opposed, so Trident and nuclear weapons in Iran and Israel?
M - support nuclear weapons and Trident, to protect our country, need to deal with Iran head on, real threat there, was against Iraq conflict as without Security Council approval so illegal, support the work that our troops do, should look into everyone with nuclear weapons, including Israel
T - if we need nuclear weapons, shnould make our own, Trident is ridiculously expensive and not needed, appalled at behaviour to Israelis (applause), people are afraid of annoying Israel and the Israelis are jolly clever people
S- Ann fully supports government position on Trident, work with UN to reduce threat, work with all countries to reduce , it's not a known fact that Israel has nuclear weapons. Negotiations and talks with all countries to reduce nuclear weapons
A - no like for like replacement of Trident, talking of weapons that can destroy major cities,  Obama is pressing forward with international talks promoting disarmament, but not helped by UK keeping its arms, alternatives should be look at like extending life of Trident, ending continuous sea patrols, for Iran look at sanctions, for Israel huge fear on both side and need to get both sides round negotiating table, Israel has to commit to stop building settlements.
J - No replacement for Trident at all, no more nuclear power stations either as don't know what to do with waste, reduce defence expenditure, EU Association Agreement that have never been invoked so that when Israel isolates people in Gaza we should already be doing something about it, support for nuclear weapons diminishing in Iran so might not be too hard, but not if we replace Trident, democratisation of international politics so small countries don't feel that big ones can veto them.

T - colleagues can refer to party dictats, but when she's short of words she can't refer to, we've been nice to her, next week we will all get her leaflet, please read it before binning, hope we've liked what she's said, does not associate with any other party
S - continue good work we've been doing with investment in education, jobs, health, no double dip, no slash and burn when the Tories get in (oops, meant 'if'), Conservatives will put at risk Children's Centres (boos), polysystem, Heart of Hounslow, all from Labour goverment
A - Roots are in this community and has never sought to represent elsewhere, Thinks we all know he's passionate about tackling climate change, as councillor has worked hard for consitutents, learning how to mange casework, if elected as both, will create direct link between area committee and westminster. Will continue to challenge party on Afghanisation and Corporate Responsibility. Not claiming any housing allowance, not taking London weighting allowance, open constituency office 7 days, no food or first class travel expenses 9% swing last time, with the same swing again this time can win, real change can happen this May. Vote Lib Dem, not the two old parties
J - been increase in Green vote. Even though no Green MPs yet voting has increased and other parties have started to adopt parts of the Green agenda although far too slowly. Environment remains extremely important with climate change. As it afffect other countries, immigration will become bigger problem, Problems of climate change affecting animnals. Last prediction was made 3 years ago that bees would be eliminated in UK within 10 years with follow on domino effect. Wait and see what happens. Social inequalities begin even before birth, plus infant mortality, expections at school. Need to create jobs in the right sectors. No cuts to public services, adjust taxation
M - Thank you for being here and showing you care. This is a marginal seat and no one can take winning for granted. Chance for you to change government as well as locally. Have knocked on many doors during campaign. Many of us disillusioned and angry with politicans and political progress. We need change locally, talking about aftect us locally: no to third runway, keeping local tax low, defending NHS, reduce crime on streets and reducing paperwork and red tape. Repairing our broken economy. Getting Britain working again. Came into politics to give something back. Born in London, 8 years in Chiswick. Choice at this election is 5 years of GB and AK or something new and that something new is DC and herself. Up to us, do we want change or do we want to continue . Be strong voice working for us in local community. (applause)

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April 30, 2010

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