IN VIDEO AND PICTURES - Candidates quizzed at Redditch general election hustings - The Redditch Standard

IN VIDEO AND PICTURES - Candidates quizzed at Redditch general election hustings

Redditch Editorial 26th Jun, 2024 Updated: 27th Jun, 2024   0

THE PARLIAMENTARY candidates for Redditch faced questions from members of the public at St Stephen’s Church to hear from those vying to become the constituency’s next MP.

An audience of 120 people listened intently to a range of questions that were put to the panel by host and chair, former Standard editor Ross Crawford.

The topics were diverse and ranged from how to regenerate Redditch, the NHS and healthcare services at the Alexandra Hospital, thoughts on tackling social isolation and loneliness to views on immigration and assisted dying.

They had been picked from 40 questions submitted to Churches Together in Redditch which organised the event.

Picture by Lise Evans. Copyright Bullivant Media Group Ltd.

The candidates were: Mohammed Amin (Workers Party of Great Britain), Julie Alison, (Reform), Chris Bloore (Labour), Andrew Fieldsend-Roxborough (Liberal Democrats), Rachel Maclean, Conservative and David Thain (Green Party).

James Mackay from Redditch was selected from the audience to put his own question to the panel which was to ask what each would do to ensure maternity and paediatric services return to Redditch.

He told the panel of an emergency situation when he had to travel to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital with his very poorly daughter and said the extra time to get there was putting the lives of mothers and babies at risk.

Emilia is recovering now. s

Emilia, six, is now recovering after undergoing a life-saving transplant of stem cells at Birmingham Children’s Hospital following a diagnosis of aplastic anaemia. A story the Standard has featured as the family appealed for people to join the blood stem cell register.

Picture by Lise Evans. Copyright Bullivant Media Group Ltd.

The response of both Rachel Maclean and Chris Bloore drew a round of spontaneous applause from the audience in what was generally an uneventful evening. The former spoke of her record of helping to get funding for the Alex and the latter stating he would be willing to lose the party whip if it meant sticking up for local health services.

After the event Mr Mackay told the Standard: “Unfortunately the responses I received were quite poor from all of the candidates, apart from the Labour representative.

“I felt that he answered the question fully, with passion and was aware of Emilia’s story.

“It was particularly sad that Rachel Maclean gave a poor answer and did not acknowledge that we had actually met to discuss my daughter’s situation previously.”

He also criticised Mrs Maclean for not doing more to bring maternity and children’s services back to Redditch, particularly as neighbouring Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid was Health Secretary for 12 months.

“I feel it is definitely time for a positive change in Redditch and based on the responses my vote would be for Labour,” he added.

Another moment of voter participation was the general derision expressed in response to Julie Alison who stated that nurses did not need to know maths to do their job.

In room of mostly older people, one young woman shouted out in protest at a comment from Ms Alison who suggested that more needed to be done to get young people off their phones and taking drugs in response to a question about tackling isolation. She subsequently put her head in her hands and cried.

Kyle Wakefield, 16, from Redditch was one of the youngest people in the audience. He was also offended at the comment about young people calling it ‘rubbish’.

He told the Standard: “I was very shocked. I am the complete opposite and don’t take drugs or believe in violence.”

On the event as a whole he added: “I was impressed with Rachel Maclean but the other candidates didn’t provide a sufficient answer to the questions.”

Organiser Elaine Whitfield from Churches Together in Redditch, said: “I was delighted to see so many people turn out and I hope it has helped them to make a decision on the day of the election. It’s important for our democracy that people use their vote.”

Picture by Lise Evans. Copyright Bullivant Media Group Ltd.

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