General Election 2019: Portsmouth North candidates vow to demand better for their constituency

THE north of the city should not be ignored - that was the message of parliamentary candidates hoping to secure votes during a hustings event held last night.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 10:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 9:23 am
The University of Portsmouth and The News, Portsmouth jointly hosted an election hustings for the hotly-contested Portsmouth North seat. Editor, Mark Waldron with candidates Penny Mordaunt and Amanda Martin. Picture: Habibur Rahman

MP hopefuls Penny Mordaunt and Amanda Martin went head to head in a question and answer session at the University of Portsmouth's Eldon Building stating their views education, defence, political etiquette and, of course, Brexit.

However, they were united in their devotion to Portsmouth North and how they believed it deserved better.

Conservative Ms Mordaunt, who is seeking re-election following nine years in the seat, asked audience members to look to her 'track record of delivery' when casting their vote.

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The University of Portsmouth and The News, Portsmouth jointly hosted an election hustings for the hotly-contested Portsmouth North seat Pictured: Penny Mordaunt and Amanda Martin. Picture: Habibur Rahman

'Every time I have stood I have asked local people what it is they want me to prioritise,' she said.

'I have put those in my local manifesto and delivered on them.'

Opponent Ms Martin, from the Labour Party, explained that she was passionate about her home. She said: 'I am standing to be elected to make a change for the people I love and care about in the city.

'It's time to regenerate the north of the city. I'm a resident in the north of the city and I haven't seen it.

The University of Portsmouth and The News, Portsmouth jointly hosted an election hustings for the hotly-contested Portsmouth North seat. Picture: Habibur Rahman

'We are fed up of having to come to Southsea to do anything.'

Ms Mordaunt agreed and cited hopes to improve public transport to benefit residents as well as the environment. She said: 'We have looked at the old railway lines in the north of the city, and could we run something along there again?

'We could create an efficient system to see if we can get that running in the north of the city.'

Education was hotly debated as audience member Charlotte Nurnberg asked what would be done to encourage more than the current 22 per cent of young people in the area to apply to university.

The University of Portsmouth and The News, Portsmouth jointly hosted an election hustings for the hotly-contested Portsmouth North seat Pictured: Audience at the hustings.Picture: Habibur Rahman

Ms Mordaunt believed her work with the aspiration ambassadors was key. She said: 'One of the things we have suffered from for many years as a city is about aspiration and ensuring people know they can go on and achieve things.'

She also championed apprenticeships and alternatives to university.

But Ms Martin, who has been a Portsmouth teacher for 22 years, said: 'It's very difficult for me to hear that we don't have aspiration in this city. There are some barriers. Money is a huge barrier.'

She also vowed to support Labour's pledge to scrap all statutory testing for primary schools.

A debate on Brexit could not be avoided.

Staunch Brexiteer Ms Mordaunt said: 'I voted to leave. I think we have to deliver on that referendum result. If we can't trust the people's decision we can't expect them to trust us.

'I think we will look back at this period of our time with pride.'

Ms Martin commented: 'I do think we have to honour the decision that was made. Another deal needs to be put to the public that needs to protect workers' rights, that's right for families and for defence.

'I think we need to get started , the delay and uncertainty is costing money and lives.'

Lib Dem candidate for the seat, Antonia Harrison, was unable to attend the event as planned due to health reasons. In her statement read by friend Steve Brookfield she made her pro-EU position known. It said: 'We are at risk of turning inwards.

'Britain for centuries has embraced the world, looked outwards and traded with and defended our neighbours. Our number one priority has to be working together to overcome the climate emergency.'

Candidates Lloyd Day for the Green Party and independent George Madgwick were also unable to attend.