Friday, 26 March 2010

Sixth Formers have their say with Bracknell PPC's‏

I attending the Have your say question time event at Easthampstead Park Community School in Bracknell on 24th March 2010 organised by Sixth form Student Andrew Best. This event was well attended although Andrew Best wished that more had come. I agree but I was pleased to see an almost full room.

The meeting was chaired by Headteacher: Gordon Cunningham. The format was a two minute speech from each of the candidates then a question and answer session.

The PPC's at this event were;

Conservative, Dr Philip Lee
Labour’s John Piasecki
Liberal Democrat, Ray Earwicker
Green Party's David Young
UKIP's Murray Barter
BNP's Mark Burke.

Speeches were not all along party lines. David Young was up first. talked about his children and about how if you work hard like them you can achieve anything. He related this to the wellbeing of the planet.

Next up was Ray Earwicker. He explained a bit about his history in the constituency and described the Lib Dems as the alternative two the other two parties. He explained the voting system and why it should be changed. he also talked about civil liberties and about Britain's place in the world and compared the EU administration to the Birmingham city council. He didn't however mention Tuition Fees to the sixth form audience.

Next John Piasecki. John spoke about his history in the community. He also listed al the things Labour had done and mentioned what he believed the Tories were wrong on and their past failures.

Phillip Lee said that he was the black sleep of the family because of his long 9 years at university studying to become a doctor. He said that we had responsibility for our own life's. He concentrated on Low taxation, small government and his concern for the old and the valuable. He said that he would ensure Bracknell remains a great place to live.

Mark Burke of the BNP was next. He told his story about being an immigrant from Ireland and now many people decided to get out of Ireland and related this to the UK now. He said the British people had lost self belief. He also spoke about BNP's bad image can said that they are a 21st Century Party. Mark did not come across as the kind BNP candidate I may of expected and he was treat the same as any other candidate.

UKIP's Murray Barter used statistics about the British population growth and how we will need 16% of everything in a generations time. Said it was not about race but about space(a good line). He said said the main parties had let us down by not holding an EU referendum and talked about Britain's payments into the EU and also about sorting out the benefits system.

After the speeches there was a break.

During the break I spoke to a number of Sixth form students and I was impressed with their knowledge of subjects like PR and FPTP. I did get the impression that some student were shy when asking questions although towards the end many braved a question. This maybe because the student were listening to the answers and just found it difficult to approach a question.

The Questions (from here on in I will just use the parties as it is easier to follow).

Q1. Parties views on education.

Lib Dems said that abolishing tuition fees was a long term commitment.

UKIP said there would not be any targets relying on the market.

Labour mentioned what they had done and also what used to happen before New Labour came to power.

Tories talked about apprenticeships and that they will back you if you work hard.

BNP talked about people going aboard and the debt overspending affecting young people

Greens - Free education and a policy of no private schools. Paid by higher income tax and No NI cap. Also talked about the detail of 54 pages of policy.

Labour hit back by saying that apprenticeships had trebled.

Tories said there are 1 million young people not working.

Q2 was from a Garth Hill Student and asked about Bracknell's Town Centre

Labour said the plans were too large and talked about shops opening later.

Lib's said this was a missed chance and explained the detail behind why the plans had not happened and that there was no council input due to the developers involved.

BNP said Bracknell was a 50's soulless town centre

Greens said that this is not really a subject for PPC and said it was a trivial question (perhaps a mistake saying trivial) He said this is a council matter but did add details about no private car parks and little public transport in the new plans. He also said we wont be driving cars in 50 years time.

UKIP said there wasn't anything for young people in town and that more was needed.

Tories said that it was positive as the town was still being developed as only 4 out of 24 plans now remain. Phillip was proud of the ambition and disagree with the Lib Dems on the developers. Phillip said a new supermarket will be coming to Bracknell town.

Greens said that there were some good local youth provision and that this is where it should be.

Labour defended the car parks and agreed on public transport with the Greens. Talking about a range of shops and youth employment.

Q3 Mackay, would you do the same?

Tory Believed in renting at Westminster as there will be some late night votes.

BNP attacked the politicians and talked about renting a small place and about public service.

UKIP would bring the system forward to a 9 to 5 systems instead of starting at noon on a Monday. leaving earlier meant MP's could use public transport.

Greens said well done to Lib Dems for exposing Andrew Mackay. He talked about public transport and also about how much holiday MP's get from parliament (81days). He also said that MP's were not there Friday.

Libs said there should be a hostel for MP's and there should be allowances to replace expenses. He also mention that Andrew Mackay did not hold any surgeries and that the MP should be local.

Labour talked about the capital gains made on properties and that this should be paid back. he went with renting. spoke about how the fees office were blamed when it was the MP's that cause the Fees office to react the way it did.

Q4 High unemployment related to cross boarder employment?

BNP need job creation, what are the kind of jobs on offer spoke about exports and manufacturing (and not about immigration)

Libs Said that some migrants are welcome re NHS. Balance and that its a two way thing. He also said that Britain should of been more firm on Eastern European controls and that the government lacked controls (although did not mention the border controls policy).

UKIP said that immigrants had taken full advantage and said the problem was complete freedom of movement.

Greens talked about fruit picking and that young people didn't do this while on holiday. the Green new deal and listed training people to insulate houses and about how refugees need our help including environmental refugees. At this point David Young wondered off here and had to be brought back on track.

Tories said that it was a problem if transition and open doors. He said Poles were laying down roots. he also said that a quarter of British people are inactive and related this to dependency culture and about small government.

Labour talked about low wage rates and that if you had a choice of expensive British picked fruit or cheaper Polish picked fruit, people would choose the polish fruit. He also talked about EU trade and about British who work in the EU.

UKIP hit back saying you could still have free trade.

BNP said the EU was like a soviet high state which the UK had been sucked into.

UKIP said that the EU costs 17million a day

Libs said that if you include payments back its £1 a week.

Q5 Cadburys

Tories said that this was due to the weakness of the pound and that Britain also buys companies aboard. Phillip said this case did have some issues but that we should not be protectionist and lower taxes and costs would help.

Labour agreed with Phillip and talked about government support where contracts had been won in Britain for manufacture here by foreign companies.

Libs mentioned that this should not of been paid for by a government owned bank.

Q6 Health space

Greens said that Heatherwood had been going down hill over a long period of time.

Tories Spoke about chronic illness facilities. Spoke about the new Health space and about the cancer treatment centre was the right direction. He said that hospitals should cater for a million people not the current 600,000 people. As there should be more prevention and smaller units were needed. He said that Wrexham Park hospital was a disgraces and suggest that it is best to visit the other local hospitals. He said compacting the site at Heatherwood was the right move using the land more efficiency. He hoped to deliver better healthcare.

Libs said that the plans for the Healthspace was years behind. Sighting a lack of interaction between the trusts. He said that it just happened and explained Wrexham Parks current financial problems. He also said that PFI capital would be at a massive costs.

Labour spoke about the good news of the Healthspace and Cancer care. He said that it was a small hospital. He said it was better t keep people healthy using primary care and that less hospitals will be needed. He also said that there is a choice of hospitals.

At the end the Mayor Bob Wade gave a very good speech listing famous quotes which he used to demonstrated how important voting and democracy is (I will publish this speech on another post as I thought it was very entertaining).

The Sixth Formers all listen to the PPC's and all candidates preformed well. I think that perhaps David Young did lose some of the audience and missed an opportunity with the young voters, which was a shame.

I was very impressed with the knowledge of the Head teacher: Gordon Cunningham, he examined some of the answers and was very fair to all. I suggested to him that this happens at every General Election as I think it could be very useful for first time voters.

Andrew Best I believe will go far. He want to go into journalism although I would love to see him as a politician. I didn't think of this at the time but yesterday someone suggested to me that people voted at the beginning of the event and then voted at the end to see if anyone had changed their minds. I will let them know this suggestion just encase any other future events are held.


  1. Interesting report - thanks.

    You said: "Greens said well done to Lib Dems for exposing Andrew Mackay.
    What does this refer to? I thought Mackay's abuse of allowances was revealed as a result of the long battle by Heather Brooke to get access to MPs spending using FoI.

  2. Is Philip Lee going to be another Mackay short on answers long on evasion?

  3. Libs said there should be a hostel for MP's and there should be allowances to replace expenses. He also mention that Andrew Mackay did hold any surgeries and that the MP should be local.

    Didnt he mean Andrew Mackay DID NOT hold any surgeries !!!

    In 27 years the man could not bring himself to buy a one bed roomed flat in Bracknell much less make himself available to the constituents!

  4. Richard, It was the telegraph that exposed Mackay, im just reporting on what was said at the meeting.

    Anonymous - Good point I have now corrected this he did say did not