‘Our education system is not good enough’ - Portsmouth South election hustings

From left, Charlotte Tipping from World Vision HQ, organiser of the lunch Sue Tinney, chef Sam Kemp, Alan Mak MP and Amy Johnson from the World Vision Advocacy Team 

Picture:  Malcolm Wells (170922-2862)

Havant community gathers to support malnourished children in Africa

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OUR education system is lagging behind and it must be urgently improved.

That was the message from several candidates seeking to win over Portsmouth South voters at a lively News hustings.

VISION Sean Hoyle of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition makes a point, flanked by, from left, Liberal Democrat Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Green Party's Ian McCulloch, and Labour's Sue Castillon. Picture: Sarah Standing (150780-7299)

VISION Sean Hoyle of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition makes a point, flanked by, from left, Liberal Democrat Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Green Party's Ian McCulloch, and Labour's Sue Castillon. Picture: Sarah Standing (150780-7299)

And the need to improve the school curriculum and create better jobs for young people and the existing workforce were all brought to attention.

Labour candidate Sue Castillon said: ‘We need to improve education standards in this city. It has been too low, for too long.’

Conservative Flick Drummond pledged to do all she could to boost prospects for students.

‘I want more jobs and more investment coming into the city, and not just jobs in the dockyard,’ she said.

Portsmouth was made the fourth worst local authority in the country in terms of education in the last 10 years while under the Lib Dems.

Flick Drummond, Conservative candidate for Portsmouth South

‘Our level of education has been appalling.

‘Portsmouth was made the fourth worst local authority in the country in terms of education in the last 10 years while under the Lib Dems.’

But Lib Dem Gerald Vernon-Jackson reminded guests at the University of Portsmouth’s Portland Building that as leader of the city council he helped create an additional 1,000 school places.

It comes after civic leaders raised fears city schooling is nearing ‘crisis point’ due to a shortage in primary places, which they say will have a knock-on effect when students go to apply for secondary schools in future years.

Green candidate Ian McCulloch said better jobs had to be created.

‘There are more jobs for people – but what sort of jobs are they? Part-time jobs, low-paid jobs, low-security jobs,’ he said.

Meanwhile, independent Mike Hancock criticised Mrs Drummond for supporting work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms such as the introduction of universal credit.

‘People have been badly affected by cuts,’ he said.

‘Iain Duncan Smith’s reform of the welfare system is doing everything but helping families in this country.’

Trade Unionist and Socialist Candidate Sean Hoyle urged constituents to vote for his party as a matter of principle against the ‘painful’ cuts being imposed against the most vulnerable in society.

Don Jerrard, of the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, is also standing in Portsmouth South.

PM urged to ‘commit’ over frigate programme

THE prime minister has been urged to promise that each of the Royal Navy’s frigates will be replaced once they come to the end of their life.

Portsmouth South Lib Dem candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson has written to David Cameron demanding he make a ‘public commitment’ over the issue. Speaking at last night’s News hustings, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘When Mrs Thatcher came to power, the Royal Navy had 59 frigates and destroyers. Now we are down to 19.

‘Thirteen of these ships are frigates that are coming to the end of their working lives, and they will be replaced by the new Type 26 frigates. The surface fleet provides the essential support this country needs across the world.’

He added: ‘Yet the pleas from the Royal Navy for a decision to replace the current frigates one-for-one have been ignored by the Ministry of Defence.’

Ukip’s Steve Harris said: ‘The conventional forces have been cut to levels that are unbelievably low. They are at their lowest since after the The Napoleonic Wars and I just don’t understand this.’