Batley & Spen hopefuls face grilling

Batley & Spen hopefuls face grilling

FIVE prospective parliamentary candidates for Batley & Spen faced questions from residents at a hustings event. 

John Lawson (Lib Dem), Mark Brooks (Con), Tracy Brabin (Lab), Clive Minihan (Brexit) and Paul Halloran (Independent) attended the event at the Al-Hikmah Centre in Batley. 

Ty Akram (Green) was the only candidate not present.

The candidates were quizzed on local issues, including social care and the opportunities available to young people. 

Mr Lawson claimed “we are in this room because of the failure of government”, and Mr Brooks promised that “the law-abiding working man would come first”, should he be elected. 

Ms Brabin described being the area’s MP as “the privilege of my life” and said the election on December 12 is “a two-horse race”. She did not eleborate on who she felt her main rival was. 

Mr Minihan promised the Brexit Party would scrap HS2 (a proposed railway line between London and the West Midlands, touted to be completed by 2026) and abolish the House of Lords. 

Mr Halloran received a huge response from the public audience and claimed that Batley & Spen “is on life support” before ending his opening speech with: “I’m here because I feel like I have to be.” 

The candidates were then asked what they thought the biggest issue facing the constituency was. 

Ms Brabin cited Dewsbury & District Hospital as requiring more funding while Mr Brooks said: “It’s always about more jobs.” 

But Mr Halloran was adamant that the area “has become lawless,” and called on the police to become “the biggest gang on the street”. 

Ms Brabin was later asked to outline her stance on Brexit and whether or not she would campaign for a deal. 

“We’ve got to play this out, we can’t wish away 17 million people,” she said. 

“But let’s see what the deal is first, right now I can’t answer (if she would vote in favour of a new Brexit deal).” 

When met with an outcry of unrest from the audience, she exclaimed: “I want a deal.”

One concerned parent asked the candidates what they would do to ensure children in Batley & Spen have access to the same opportunities as children in the south of the country.

“It’s all about focusing on early years and investing in them,” said Mr Lawson. 

Mr Brooks claimed it came down to “having a positive attitude” and singled out Labour for “talking down the working class.”

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