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AS the race to the General Election hots up, local people will have the chance to quiz this area’s Parliamentary candidates in two events in Melksham.
All five local candidates will take part in a hustings debate at Brookside in Melksham on Thursday 9th April from 6.30pm.
Then on Friday 17th April, Melksham Seniors Forum will also be hosting a Question Time-style hustings event with all five candidates, at Melksham United Church at 2pm.
The five candidates for this area’s Chippenham Constituency Parliamentary seat are; Duncan Hames (Liberal Democrat); Michelle Donelan (Conservative); Andy Newman (Labour); Tina Johnston (Green); and Julia Reid (UKIP).
At the Brookside event on Thursday 9th April, organisers say it is hoped the event will give the elderly a chance to share their views ahead of upcoming elections as there will be a question and answer session. The evening will be chaired by former political editor for Channel 4 News, Elinor Goodman.
Esther Thomas, home manager, Brookside said, “The question and answer session with five of the local election candidates is gathering pace,
“We are holding an election debate at Brookside which will be recorded and broadcast by BBC Wiltshire during the following days after the event. Anyone with an interest in local politics is invited to attend and maybe you have a question you would like to put to the candidates.
“We have posters and questions forms available at Brookside if you would like to pick one up and return it prior to the 9th April, we have a box in the foyer for you to place your returned question form. We will leave some posters and of course the question forms in various community information points throughout the town so please look out for them and if you have a question please do pop it in the box at Brookside and come along on the night and maybe your question and any reply will be broadcast on the radio. Light refreshments will be available.
“We look forward to seeing you on the 9th April, the question and answer session starts at 6.30pm prompt.”
At the Melksham Seniors’ Forum’s Question Time-style hustings, on Friday 17th April, debate topics will include democracy, housing, welfare, environment, and employment.
Melksham Seniors hope the event at Melksham United Church will help to break down political apathy in the community and encourage more people to vote.
Seniors’ chair Brian Warwick said, “Seniors Forums nationwide are holding these debates and we are very keen to put one on for the people of Melksham.
“In the past older people have tended to vote for one or two parties, whereas now the political horizon is widening; a debate like this is a fantastic opportunity to hear what each candidate has to say.”
Writer and journalist Tony Watts OBE will host the debate.
Brian continued, “Melksham Seniors want to especially encourage people who are undecided about how to vote, and particularly young people to come along and make up their own minds.
“We’re keen to have young people get involved because in many cases it’s their futures we’re discussing. We have heard from them the desire to have a fairer, equitable society in the future and want more people to make themselves heard.
“The debate will be hosted by the Seniors Forum, but is open to public, both in terms of attendance and question submissions.
“Interesting questions are already coming in and we would welcome more especially from first time voters. Send them in advance to email@example.com, or phone 01225 792959
“A few examples of questions already received include
“1) How safe would the National Health Service be in your Party’s hands for the next five years. Would you be in favour of limiting permissible privatisation? How could health and care services work more effectively together in view of the frequent cutbacks?
“2) Are tuition fees a way to save money and help reduce the deficit or are they here to stay?”
“3) Should there be an increase in the building of more social housing to help young people and help keep them out of debt and the hands of the greedy private land lords?
‘Question Time’ will be held at Melksham United Church from 2pm on Friday 17th April. Tickets are limited to 136, and can be booked two per person. They are available at Melksham Tourist Information Centre or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.