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Local elections 2014: Hustings meeting sees candidates discuss equality, health and even Ukip

Thursday, May 15, 2014
2:51 PM

Hosted by Ramfel (the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London) and the Redbridge Rainbow Community, the event saw the panel answer questions on topics such as equality and the possibility of Ukip candidates being elected.

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The meeting was chaired by Recorder editor Chris Carter and took place at the Redbridge Council of Voluntary Services, in Forest House, Clements Road, Ilford.

The candidates were Cllr Ian Bond, leader of the Liberal Democrats and deputy leader of Redbridge Council, Conservative Cllr Paul Canal, Cllr Wes Streeting, Labour’s deputy leader, and Green Party candidate John Tyne, who is a former Liberal Democrats member.

The proceedings began with each candidate talking about their political background and their party’s manifesto, for a maximum of 10 minutes.

Cllr Bond said he believes one party having total power is a bad thing, while Cllr Canal said he thinks the election will solely be a red versus blue battle.

Cllr Streeting said it is “time for change” after 12 years of opposition, while Mr Tyne said the Green Party would represent residents on key issues such as protecting green spaces.

After the introductions, the floor was opened up for residents to ask questions.

Jack Gilbert asked the candidates whether they would commit to working with the Redbridge Rainbow Community more.

They all agreed, with Mr Tyne arguing that not only is more support needed, but that attitudes need to change for the next generation.

School governor and magistrate Sonia Gable posed an interesting question, asking whether the candidates would work with Ukip councillors.

They all said no, with Cllr Canal arguing that there is “something rotten at the core of Ukip” and Cllr Bond saying he is not sure what their “agenda” for the council would be.

Cllr Streeting was asked by chair Mr Carter which party he would form a coalition with if he had to choose.

Calling the possibility a “nightmare,” he said: “We will have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

A moment of humour arose when a resident asked a question about faith and ethnicity, calling the panel, including Cllr Streeting, “middle-aged white men”.

Cllr Streeting later joked that he wasn’t insulted, as some residents have believed he is aged 25.

One of the final questions saw Olive Hamilton-Andrews, a member of the Redbridge Health and Wellbeing Board, ask how the panel would rate residents’ health on a scale of one to 10.

Mr Tyne said it is difficult to pinpoint, arguing that parts of the north would score highly, but that parts of the south need improvement.

Cllr Streeting said he does not buy into the idea of a north-south divide, arguing that “in the north there are pockets of deprivation”.

Cllr Canal said he would score Redbridge a five, while Cllr Bond said many factors would score a seven or eight, but that there are still problems around diabetes and sexual health.

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