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Young voters quiz candidates on their election priorities

PUBLISHED: 17:19 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:41 26 November 2019

Catherine Rowett, Green Party; James Wright, Liberal Democrats; Clive Lewis, Labour (stood); Sandy Gilchrist, Brexit Party; and Mike Spencer, Conservatives. Picture: Ormiston Academy

Catherine Rowett, Green Party; James Wright, Liberal Democrats; Clive Lewis, Labour (stood); Sandy Gilchrist, Brexit Party; and Mike Spencer, Conservatives. Picture: Ormiston Academy

Ormiston Academy

Norwich election candidates were grilled on the NHS, climate change, trust, and education policies during a hustings event held at a city centre school.

Students at the City of Norwich School quizzed candidates in the Norwich South seat at an event held at the Eaton Road school on Monday, November 25 at 9am.

The Green Party's Catherine Rowett; James Wright, Liberal Democrats; Clive Lewis, Labour; Sandy Gilchrist, Brexit Party; and Mike Spencer, Conservatives fielded questions from around 250 sixth formers for 90 minutes at the event hosted by the campaign Vote For Your Future, which aims to get young peoples' voices heard.

In response to a question about plans by Ormiston Academy, which runs the City of Norwich school, to cut more than 130 ICT, caretaking and maintenance jobs, Mr Wright told students he had "real concerns about academies", while Mr Lewis said: "Education is a public good. The Labour party would create a national education service which academies will be brought back into."

While Mr Gilchrist said: "I don't think you should apologise for the person at the top of the tree earning what they earn.

"We don't live in a socialist, communist state - we shouldn't be getting involved in individual roles and responsibilities. That should be down to organisations."

Mr Spencer added: "We should say positive things about what we can actually improve, rather than trying to break down private schools and get the state to pay."

But Dr Rowett said: "We need to address the inequality put in place by the Conservative government."

Further questions included the issue of trust in politics, the candidates' plans for the Brexit and the NHS, and how they would tackle poverty in Norwich South.

After the hustings, Joana Gil Mirow, 19, said: "I still agree with everything Clive Lewis says, but I didn't have a lot of knowledge of the Green Party. But now I think it's actually a really viable party, so I'm going to struggle."

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Tabby Berry, 17, added: "It was useful to give us a chance to see what they all say."

Katie Griffiths, also 17, said: "It reinforced what we thought about some of the candidates."

James Christopher, head of social sciences, said the students' interest in politics had risen since the 2017 election.

"The climate agenda is huge for them," he said. "They've been passionately engaged with the marches and strikes.

Norwich South hustings: How did the candidates fare on climate change?

Students asked Norwich South candidates how they would advance the climate agenda locally and UK-wide.

The Green Party's Dr Catherine Rowett, highlighted their carbon neutral by 2030 pledge and added: "We've taught the other parties what they have to say".

While Lib Dem candidate James Wright said the party has a policy of retrofitting homes with insulation.

And Labour's Clive Lewis said David Cameron's 2015 Conservative government claimed it would be the greenest government ever and added: "They've "comprehensively failed".

Brexit Party candidate, Sandy Gilchrist, said he would prioritise recycling and added: "Politics has got to change if we're going to deal with these issues locally."

And the Conservative candidate Mike Spencer says: "We were the first major country to declare a 2050 zero carbon ambition."

He said he wanted to push the green agenda and would join the Tory climate caucus.

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