Four of the main parliamentary candidates for the Lewes constituency took part in a Question Time-style event at East Sussex College last Thursday (28th November).

The Careers and Enrichment Team invited the Conservatives, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party candidates into the college to take part in a political debate hosted by the Principal, Fred Carter.

Johnny Denis (Green Party), Maria Caulfield (Conservative), Oli Henman (Liberal Democrats), and Kate Chappell (Labour Party) were joined by around 100 students in the lecture theatre to answer questions about the environment, crime, healthcare, education and BREXIT. The candidates also outlined their policies and suggested how they might win the students’ votes in the December election.

The panel faced 15 questions that included how they planned to reduce crime, what funding will be put into the NHS, whether university fees would increase if the UK leaves the EU, and why Further Education (FE) is the worst funded sector in education.

The four candidates said that they plan to increase the number of visible police officers to help reduce crime and Kate Chappell said that Labour plans to reinvest in youth services.

All four acknowledged that more funding needs to be invested into the NHS, Oli Henman revealed the Lib Dem’s plan to add 1p to income tax to raise £7bn for the NHS.

There were different views from the candidates about university fees if the UK leaves the EU. Johnny Denis echoed the Green’s proposal to abolish university fees and introduce maintenance grants. He added that Higher Education should be seen as an investment in people and will help the whole of society.

Each of the candidates believe that more funding should be given to FE and Maria Caulfield encouraged the audience to lobby local politicians to invest more in their local college.

After the event, the students had the opportunity to take part in a short exit poll to give their opinions of the afternoon. 17% of students stated that they had changed their mind about who to vote for as a result of the debate.

The Liberal Democrats had the support of 36% of the audience. 29% of students said that they would vote for Labour, 25% for the Conservatives, 7% for the Green Party and 2% ‘Other’.

Mia Penfold, Lewes campus Student President said, “The Question Time event has been a huge success. Over the past few weeks, we have been encouraging our students to register to vote. This event has given our students the chance to hear first-hand what their party candidates plan to do for them, so they can make an informed choice on who to vote for in the election.”

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