Candidates quizzed on issues

Candidates on the political panel at the hustings event, with chairman George Bell (standing). Photo by Nicky Bostrom.
Candidates on the political panel at the hustings event, with chairman George Bell (standing). Photo by Nicky Bostrom.

General Election candidates were quizzed on key issues in the area such as immigration and health at a heated hustings event in Boston.

The public were invited to the Assembly Rooms on Thursday evening to question candidates for the Boston and Skegness seat on the issues that matter most to them.

Each candidate was asked to outline what their priorities are and how they will act on them.

Coun Chris Pain (An Idependence From Europe Party) said ‘the main thing about Boston without a doubt is immigration’ - and spoke about the need for a bypass and ‘better flood protection’.

Victoria Percival (Green) said she wants to see the introduction of a living wage and investment in renewable energy.

Matt Warman (Conservative) said Boston and Skegness is ‘not a single issue seat’ - adding the single priority for the UK ‘is a growing economy’.

He spoke about protecting the NHS and having a referendum on Europe, adding: “We absolutely have to tackle immigration through the welfare benefit system.”

Lyn Luxton (The Pilgrim Party) said migrant workers ‘are the backbone of our country’ and spoke about the effect of zero-hour contracts, along with the need to protect A&E and maternity services.

Coun Paul Kenny (Labour) said he fell out with some people in his own party a few years ago when he told them they had ‘done some crazy things’. He added that the economy, immigration, and Pilgrim Hospital would be a priority.

“We’ve got to make Boston a nice place so doctors and nurses want to come to live and work here,” he said.

UKIP’s Coun Robin Hunter-Clarke said: “We need to get our country back from the shackles of Brussels,” adding it is why there is ‘such a strain on local services’.

In one of several digs aimed at the Tories, he added: “If you want the status quo you can vote for the Conservatives. We need real change and the only party that can defeat the Conservatives is UKIP.”

Coun Hunter-Clarke claimed the Tories were ‘destroying grammar schools’ - leading to heckling from the crowd and prompting both Mrs Luxton and Coun Pain to defend the party’s stance on education.

Mr Warman said it was not the case and hit back at what he called Coun Hunter-Clarke’s ‘negative propaganda’.

On immigration, Mr Warman said: “I would like to see a welfare system where you don’t get anything out of it until you have put in to it, and you have to have been here for four years.” But he added: “If we were to magic away all EU migrants working here, there simply wouldn’t be enough people to fill the jobs,” saying it would ‘decimate’ the local economy. However, he acknowledged there were ‘serious consequences’ for the local community with the speed of population growth.

Coun Pain said local people worked on the land for years and ‘aways got the work done’ - adding: “I’m not saying we don’t need immigrants, but at the moment we have got far too many.” He added that if they haven’t got a visa they should be ‘re-patriated’.

Coun Kenny spoke of the need for everybody coming to live in the borough having to register with the local authority and encouraging all people to speak English.

Ms Percival spoke of the need to know how many people live in the area to ensure the constituency gets its fair share of Government funding. Mrs Luxton emphasised the need for fact-based information where immigration is concerned.

Other questions were asked on climate change, the effects of housing developments on the town’s infrastructure and health.

David Watts (Lib Dem) and the Rev Robert West (BNP) were not present.