First-time voters to quiz parliamentary candidates

Nick Herbert (Conservative) will take questions at the debate on Monday
Nick Herbert (Conservative) will take questions at the debate on Monday

First-time votes are readying themselves to question parliamentary candidates for the Arundel and South Downs constituency on Monday (May 22).

Students from Steyning Grammar School will be seeking clear answers from the five party candidates: Caroline Fife (Labour), Nick Herbert (Conservative), Jo Prior (Green) John Wallace (UKIP) and Frances Haigh (Liberal Democrats) – standing in for Shweta Kapadia.

The hustings debate is organised by Greening Steyning – a non-political local pressure group campaigning for action on climate change and the environment – and will be chaired by Robin Hart – an expert in handling robust discussions.

The debate will held in a BBC Question Time format, so the audience have been advised to arrive before 7.30pm if they would like to get a question in.

Geoff Barnard, coordinator of Greening Steyning said: “Previous meetings have focused entirely on green topics as these have been notably absent from mainstream political debate.

“It’s no different in 2017, but this time we felt we should spread the net wider since Brexit, education, the national health and other topics are so central in voters’ minds.”

Despite exam pressures, staff and students at Steyning Grammar will be actively involved in the debate with a third of seats reserved for them.

Politics teacher Joe Blatch said: “It is great that this debate is taking place in our school, it is allowing students and the general public to directly engage with politics at this crucial time.”

Ella Canton, a sixth-form politics student added: “Some of the parties have promised to lower immigration, however I’m curious to see if this includes international students and how this might affect university funding.”

Tara Constantine, another sixth-form politics student said: “Arundel and South Downs is a very safe seat due to first-past-the-post (FPTP). I think the candidates should be challenged on electoral reform.”

The debate will be held at Steyning Grammar School and is open to all.

Tickets cost £3 and can be purchased via steyninghustings.eventbrite.co.uk. Doors open at 7pm and the debate starts at 8pm.