Cheers and tears as candidates face voters at election hustings

PUBLISHED: 14:41 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 22:16 08 December 2019

L-R:  Paul Parker (meeting chair), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats), Tom van de Bilt (Labour Party), Coby Wing (Green Party) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party). Photo: ARCHANT.

L-R: Paul Parker (meeting chair), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats), Tom van de Bilt (Labour Party), Coby Wing (Green Party) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party). Photo: ARCHANT.

Archant

There was cheering and booing, laughter and tears as candidates for the Saffron Walden constituency faced voters on Thursday.

L-R: Tom van de Bilt (Labour Party), Coby Wing (Green Party), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party). Photo: ARCHANT.L-R: Tom van de Bilt (Labour Party), Coby Wing (Green Party), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party). Photo: ARCHANT.

A general election hustings took place at the Saffron Walden Baptist Church, attended by dozens of residents and four candidates for the constituency, who were vying for votes ahead of the December 12 poll.

Thomas van de Bilt (Labour), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats), Coby Wing (Green Party) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party) answered residents' questions put by meeting chairman Paul Parker, of Quaker Meeting House.

The night started with candidates saying why they should win votes.

Kemi Badenoch said: "I am the only candidate who believes in getting Brexit done", while Tom van de Bilt mentioned 'unaffordable housing' and 'precarious employment': "The best way to tackle Brexit is to tackle people's issues," he said.

L-R: Paul Parker (meeting chair), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats), Tom van de Bilt (Labour Party), Coby Wing (Green Party) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party). Photo: ARCHANT.L-R: Paul Parker (meeting chair), Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrats), Tom van de Bilt (Labour Party), Coby Wing (Green Party) and Kemi Badenoch (Conservative Party). Photo: ARCHANT.

Mike Hibbs is campaigning for "remain, climate issues and a fairer society". Coby Wing asked: "What do you want future generations to inherit? Poor health? Dirty air? A divided and hate-filled country?"

A resident's question made the audience laugh: "In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve. In respect to your party leader, what went wrong this time?"

Mr van de Bilt said Jeremy Corbyn was not a "natural frontline politician" but that he preferred voting for policies over individuals. Mrs Badenoch said people did get the leaders they deserved, adding she 'likes and trust' Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

On the issue of affordable housing while protecting green spaces, Mrs Badenoch said more social housing was "noble, but most people don't want that".

The hustings ended at 9.30pm. Photo: ARCHANT.The hustings ended at 9.30pm. Photo: ARCHANT.

In an emotional address, Mrs Wing said child homelessness was "very, very personal" to her as she was made homeless when she was six, so she would offer better councillor training and financial help.

Mr van de Bilt said there was a need to "end the universal credit scandal", a £10 minimum wage and "more productive jobs through the green economic transformation", that Uttlesford was not a "national park" or a "museum", but a community.

Mr Hibbs said: "A lot of people would like to live in social housing in Wimbish."

For more details, check the live Twitter updates on @swreporter24, showing some of the candidates' thoughts on a range of other issues.

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