Belton church hosts Great Yarmouth constituency hustings

The candidates and moderators at the Belton hustings.
Picture: Anthony Carroll

The candidates and moderators at the Belton hustings. Picture: Anthony Carroll - Credit: Archant

The five candidates vying to become the MP for the Great Yarmouth constituency have taken part in a hustings at the main church in the village of Belton.

Catherine Blaiklock (Ukip), James Joyce (Lib Dem), Brandon Lewis (Con), Mike Smith-Clare (Labour) and Harry Webb (Green) appeared before about 100 people and answered submitted questions and some from the floor.

The topics ranged from national issues such as the aftermath of the Manchester terror attack and the state of funding for the NHS and emergency services to pertinent local issues such as Universal Credit and lack of police officers in Belton and surrounding villages.

A question on the controversial Universal Credit benefit system was posed by Paul Cunningham, chairman of the Eastern Landlords Association.

He said the new system had led to a rise in foodbank use and homelessness and the introduction of a soup kitchen to Yarmouth.

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Mr Smith-Clare called it a 'disgusting experiment', Mr Webb said it had led to families suffering, Mrs Blaiklock called it 'regressive' and Mr Joyce called the system 'madness'.

Mr Lewis said there have been problems with its implementation and that the system was beginning to work well and helping people back into work.

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On the issue of a lack of police in Belton Mr Lewis said that in the 12 next months 'you are going to see more police in Great Yarmouth' with all the other candidates saying they would properly fund the service.

All the candidates agreed on the importance of a properly funded NHS.

The candidates were also asked what would make Yarmouth economically and commercially successful.

Mrs Blaiklock said her party had a coastal regeneration policy for 'beach belt' towns, Mr Joyce said on a wish list he would love to see a university and a government department come to the town, Mr Smith-Clare highlighted dualling the A47 and how the town should emulate Brighton, Mr Webb wanted more focus on tidal energy and examining business rates and Mr Lewis said the town should capitalise on the £50bn of regional offshore contracts.

Other questions covered mental health funding, Brexit, what steps should be implemented after the Manchester attacks and how young people will be affected by Brexit.

The hustings was chaired by Dr Regi Alexander, editor of the Village Voice, and Rev Rosie Bunn, rector at All Saints Church who led a minute's silence to remember the victims of the Manchester attack and said a prayer for them

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