Doncaster parliamentary candidates battle for your votes in Free Press debate

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Doncaster election hopefuls were put in the hot-seat tonight as they answered your questions on some of the hottest topics ahead of next month’s elections.

Held at Doncaster’s Little Theatre, Labour candidate Rosie Winterton went head to head with fellow Doncaster central candidates, Chris Hodgson of UKIP, Mev Akram of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition as well as John Brennan of the English Democrats who was standing in for Doncaster Central candidate David Burnett and Don Valley Parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives, Carl Jackson.

The lively debate was attended by around 85 audience members, some of whom posed questions to the panel around topics such as council cuts, immigration, the NHS, the economy and austerity, foreign policy, housing and Doncaster’s image.

The most divisive question of the night focused on overcrowding and immigration in Hexthorpe, something which an audience member said led to people in the area feeling ‘abandoned’.

In response, John Brennan suggested that issues with immigration in Hexthorpe had led to an increase in fly-tipping in the area.

Labour’s Rosie Winterton said the problem around rubbish was due to people abandoning large items in the street instead of disposing of them at a waste centre.

She added that Labour was set to introduce a selective licensing scheme, which would aim to crackdown on rogue landlords.

The question led to a spat between two audience members, one of who claimed fly-tipping had been a problem in Hexthorpe for a number of years.

This was disputed by another, who said ‘you obviously haven’t been there recently’.

The introduction of the living wage at Doncaster council earlier this year, also produced some heated responses from both panel and audience members.

John Brennan called it a ‘cynical move’ while audience member, Anne Rutherford, said it was unfair for tax payers to fork out for it while so many people in the town earn less than the living wage of £7.95 an hour.

The biggest applause of the night was in response to a question from an audience member who asked the panel whether they thought the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and if so why former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had not been put on trial for war crimes.

Visit the Doncaster Free Press website to watch video highlight of the debate.

This week’s Free Press, which goes on sale on April 30, will also feature a full write-up of the hustings.