Tuition fees and EU are on agenda

Deputy leader is new county chairman

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STUDENTS having to work zero-hour contracts, funding for colleges, and fox hunting were some of the topics debated at a lively hustings.

More than 50 people, mainly teenagers, attended the election debate at Havant College and many stood up to put the candidates on the spot.

The candidates at the hustings at Havant College. Inset, the audience

The candidates at the hustings at Havant College. Inset, the audience

The event was organised by students and was an opportunity for them to quiz Havant’s hopefuls on the topics that matter most to them.

Among the questions being raised was tuition fees and whether the UK should stay in the EU.

One member of staff was angry, claiming sixth form colleges had lost out on £100m of funding since 2010 and colleges, including Havant, had to reduce staff and courses.

After the event, Tom Guy, 17, of Dysart Avenue, Drayton, who chaired the event and is president of Havant College Student Union, said: ‘It went well.

‘The students, the most important people in all of this, were engaged and really up for the debate.

‘The best part was they were involved in the politics of the community and they are not just sitting back being passive. I think each candidate played to different strengths.’

Conservative Alan Mak said: ‘There’s some fantastic students here.

‘My main pledge to them is to grow the economy so when they leave this place they’ve got an apprenticeship or a job to go to so they can build a career and have a successful life.’

Ukip candidate John Perry said: ‘Our policy on education is that Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering, maths, as well as medical degrees – would not attract tuition fees.

‘Currently the tuition fees are £9,000 per annum with 45 per cent of the value of tuition fees written off. There’s no reason why they couldn’t be reduced to £4,500 per annum with no fiscal impact.’

Tim Dawes, from Havant Green Party, said: ‘We have lost a lot of staff and courses and it’s not good for young people in Havant.

‘We need politics that is committed to funding education properly on a sustainable long-term basis.’

Graham Giles, the Labour candidate, said: ‘It was really scary, but we had someone challenging David Dimbleby as the co-ordinator. The discussion we are having now is not just winning the election, it’s winning the argument. On student fees, they would drop to £6,000 a year.’

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