Candidates go head-to-head over business

Latest politics news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter
Latest politics news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Candidates from five parties hoping to clinch the South Suffolk parliamentary seat appeared at a business-focused hustings last week.

The event at The Quay Theatre, hosted by Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and chaired by Chris Storey, gave local people the chance to quiz the candidates over business-related issues in the run-up to the general election on May 7.

Questions submitted by members of the public focused on issues such as how the candidate would help small businesses, the local community and infrastructure.

The issue of business rates sparked a vocal debate among candidates and the public as people expressed their frustration at the disproportionate prices paid by out-of-town supermarkets and high street stores.

Conservative candidate James Cartlidge said the solution to high business rates lies with reducing public spending.

But Labour’s Jane Basham disagreed and defended public spending for its role in creating a “vibrant economy”.

Another issue which divided the panel was talk of a Sudbury bypass to ease congestion through the town.

Simon Edge, who stood in for Green Party parliamentary candidate Robert Lindsay, said: “It divides people in this town but it is by no means certain that there is a consensus.”

All of the candidates vowed to remain living in south Suffolk and dedicate time to surgeries in different parts of the constituency.

Another contentious issue was the question of whether Britain should remain in the EU.

Liberal Democrat candidate Grace Weaver said her party had always been consistent on the issue of the European Union.

“I think the next parliament is going to see a lot of squabbling and in-fighting about this issue,” she said.

Ukip’s candidate, Steven Whalley, referred to the high turnout of the Scottish vote, saying a referendum was a test of the quality of politics.

But the Green party disagreed with the motivations of Ukip in wanting to leave the EU, blaming “little England xenophobia” instead.