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Public grills the candidates in open debate

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Jo Churchill, Bill Edwards, Hustings chair Julie Pierce, Helen Geake and Helen Korfanty
Jo Churchill, Bill Edwards, Hustings chair Julie Pierce, Helen Geake and Helen Korfanty

Bury St Edmunds’ parliamentary candidates were put through their paces as they took part in a hustings.

The Quaker’s Meeting House, in St John’s Street, Bury was the debating ground on Tuesday night for four out of five of the constituency hopefuls with the event organised by Brexit and Democracy - Bury St Edmunds.

The evening was led by chair Julie Pierce with Jo Churchill (Conservatives), Bill Edwards (Labour), Helen Korfanty (Liberal Democrats), Helen Geake (Green Party) in attendance.

Liam Byrne (Independent) who is also standing could not attend.

Immigration and public services were discussed but the main issues were on the economy and Brexit.

Questions included how each party would make the economy work?

Mr Edwards answered first and felt a few issues were needed to be tackled to get the economy back on track.

He said: “We need to give bank funding to businesses, get people trained in the jobs we need and supply them with new technology to do it.”

Mrs Churchill agreed that lending was something that was needed but also added to the subject.

She said: “It shouldn’t matter where you come from in life you should be able to achieve and we will invest in business and keep corporation tax low so people can do that.”

Thirdly was Ms Geake who talked about sorting out pay for employees to help with the economy.

She said: “We would look at low wages, that is connected to low productivity. We look to create a million good jobs in energy creation and restoring the public sector.”

Ms Korfanty also agreed that businesses need a chance to grow and salaries need to go up.

She said: “We need to be investing in infrastructure to help society as a whole, we will also look at capital gains tax and dividends tax too.”

Brexit had questions such as would their parties leave without a deal and a midwife asked whether EU workers would be allowed to stay in the UK as she has colleagues from the EU.

Ms Korfanty assured the crowd that her party would ensure workers will be able to stay.

She said: “Leaving without an economic deal at all would be a massive economic shock for us.”

Ms Geake said a Brexit deal ‘in theory gives us a chance to spread our wings’ trading with countries not in the EU.

She added: “But why bother when we have a good situation at the moment?”

Mr Edwards felt the choice for an election now was a great opportunity.

He said: “You do not go into a negotiation looking for no deal, you go looking to come out with a sensible deal and nobody in their right mind would push out workers such as midwives.”

Mrs Churchill said: “We need stability to drive negotiations so it benefits us all and we need to make sure the deal will improve people’s lives.”

See this week’s Bury Free Press for candidate profiles of Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk constituencies.