Brentford's General Election Hustings

A strong audience came to query the candidates' views


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Candidates for Brentford and Isleworth constituency went up against each other in the second hustings after Tuesday's debate in Chiswick.

Over 150 people attended the event at St Paul's church, which was sponsored by Neighbour Net and Brentford Chamber of Commerce, along with support from Brentford Community Council.

The main contenders Mary Macleod (Conservative) and Ruth Cadbury (Labour) both said they would defy a three party whip and fight for change within the party if the decision to expand Heathrow went ahead.

UKIP Richard Hendron thought it was a "done deal" and was heckled when he said he supported the expansion of Heathrow. The remaining two candidates, Joe Bourke (Liberal Democrats) and Daniel Goldmsith (Green) were clearcut in their opposition.

Other topics discussed were:

Child poverty - Marilyn Bater, Division Secretary of Hounslow NUT said that over 3.5 million children living in poverty was a disgrace. Teachers are bringing food into class to feed the children.

Joe mentioned free school meals brought in for years 1 and 2, nursery provision has been expanded. Said the main driver was economic growth and only just repairing damage from recession. Daniel's party is proposing a living wage of £10 per hour which will help reduce the figure of 1 in 4 children living in poverty. Richard made some "simple suggestions" like making savings in Child Protection Services, having registers for emergency child care for each local authority.

Mary said her government has brought 3 million people out of paying tax and will continue to do more. Education is the way out and we now have more good and oustanding schools than ever before. Mary acknowledged Ruth's contribution to setting up the local foodbank and said they were a marvellous organisation. Ruth blamed the need for the foodbank on government policies over the last five years and found Mary's words of support "unbelievable", that a foodbank hadn't been needed before 2010. Labour would bring the minimum wage up to £8 which would be paid by all public sector and its contractors.

EU referendum - Mary said the people have have had a say on the current form of the European Union and it's only fair to put it to them. The debate would offer the opportunity to discuss the form of the EU and changes needed and to fight for our sovereignty. Richard doesn't agree with "signing away our powers" and "it's not acceptable that most of our laws are made in Brussels" which led to cries of "rubbish" from the audience. He also suggested that being in EU stopped the UK from having trade agreements elsewhere.

Joe was old enough to vote in the 1975 referendum and was well aware that they were joining a political union. There is no reason to have a referendum now. Daniel said the Greens' belief in local decisions at local levels let to some conflict and issues with the EU's "superstate". Ruth said that Cameron's alliances with the extreme far right fascist groups in Europe and deeply affected Britain's relationship with our partners in Europe. We need to get on with reforming EU.

Tax dodging bill - do you support the campaign for such a bill, and would you promise to bring it to the house within 100 days?

Daniel said he'd been supporting the bill and had campaigned for it. Ruth would support the bill and go for within 100 days, asked why Conservatives didn't just abolish non doms, to which Mary retorted that past Labour governments left them alone too. Richard said if nondom status was abolished tax receipts would go down anyway, that it's currently fashionable to "have a go at rich people". Joe, as an accountant, went into some detail about the legislation brought in over the last decades to attempt to close down abusive tax avoidance, which along with closing loopholes was vital.

Foreign Aid - UKIP propose to cut this from 0.7% to 0.2%

Richard suggested it was wrong to give away so much when we have people starving. British people first. The other 4 candidates were united that foreign aid was the right and moral thing to do, with Mary and Ruth both talking about the need to target the money usefully for the longterm, citing getting girls in education and micro finance to start small businesses as examples. Daniel said to applause that poverty should be addressed both in UK and across the world, that the Greens would raise contribution to 1%. Ruth added that many communities are dependant on remittances sent by family members working in the UK and some banks are refusing to process this.

Small businesses and high streets - Veronika Wesweiller, Federation of Small Business asked what help would be on offer

Mary, Ruth and Joe all agreed that business rates needed cutting or relief for small firms, with Mary having "nagged" the Chancellor on this. Richard suggested a 30 minute free parking for high streets, which the other candidates and audience pointed out already was in place in Hounslow, except for Chiswick High Road. Mary advocated the need for traders groups. Ruth will continue to build business partnerships, criticising the permitted conversion of offices to homes, like Market Building without planning permission. Daniel wanted improved public transport and cycle routes to help small local shops shape the heart of the community.

Housing - the question posed by Hazel Dakers was how much should a family of 4 have to earn to afford a home locally, which no-one answered

Mary criticised Hounslow council saying they've only built 98 council homes since 2002 according to a FOI. Ruth put the responsibility at the government's feet saying the Conservatives proposed Right to Buy for housing association tenants does nothing to solve the crisis. Greens would build more social housing. Joe said a massive building programme was needed. Richard can't afford to buy his own home.

April 17, 2015

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