The five candidates hoping to become Bourne’s next MP (Member of Parliament) faced a test of their credentials at one of the town’s schools.
Harrish Bisnauthsing (Liberal Democrat), Nick Boles (Conservative), Aidan Campbell (Green Party), Barrie Fairbairn (Labour) and Marietta King (UKIP) took part in an election hustings meeting at Bourne Grammar School in front of more than 200 people.
Questions for the five candidates standing in the Grantham and Stamford constituency ranged from the NHS and foodbanks to school funding and data protection.
James McCrae (18) of Thurlby said: “I felt the debate offered a good perspective on how the main national issues would affect us at a local level and it was good to see ‘the names behind the parties’ that I will be voting for on May 7th.
“I felt of the five, Nick Boles came across as the most confident and most natural debater and it was clear that he’d used the experience of being in the role of MP for the past five years well.”
Oscar Scotney (17) of Bourne added, “Despite not being able to vote, I still enjoyed the question time debate.
Despite not being able to vote, I still enjoyed the question time debate.Oscar Scotney (17) of Bourne Grammar School
“It was interesting to discover what the candidates’ local priorities were, along with their views on nationwide issues as well.”
Meanwhile, Josh Finch of Morton (19) said: “It was encouraging to see so many of my peers here and to see the vast interest from first-time voters.
“This kind of event gives us an opportunity to experience politics first-hand and to appreciate the impact our votes can make on a local level.”
After the hustings, students from Bourne Grammar School gave the candidates an idea of the issues they think should be priorities for the next government.
Molly Orford (18) of Bourne said: “I’m planning to study for an NHS healthcare degree, so working for them afterwards means that the outcome of the general election will impact hugely on my future, depending on the incoming Government’s policies and how it’s funded.”
Sixth-former Matt Gutteridge (18) of Haconby, who is hoping to study history at Cambridge University, added: “I think it’s crucially important to make government more accountable.
“At local, national and especially at European level, we are run by a bureaucratic and opaque system that is making people feel like they don’t have a say.
“By cutting the red tape we can give people more faith in government, make them feel valued as part of the democratic system and save a great deal of money in the process.”
The hustings was hosted by Johnston Press Midlands group editor Mark Edwards who said: “Bourne Grammar School did a great job of hosting a super event and it was particularly good to see so many sixth form pupils there taking a keen interest and joining in the debates.
“There was a capacity audience and the debate was very lively at times which showed that the community is very interested in the election and the key issues nationally and locally.
“We had many questions put forward by the local community and although it wasn’t possible to get through them all on the night, the topics covered were very wide-ranging from foodbanks to green energy.
“I was delighted to have been asked to chair the event at Bourne Grammar School and would like to thank its staff and students for all their hard work and support.”