The Hampshire County Council Hayling Island candidate election hustings was organised by the Hayling Island Residents Association (HIRA), and gave those in the area an opportunity to decide for whom to vote on May 4.
Five out of the six candidates standing to represent the island were present: Paul Gray, Liberal Democrats; Sheree Earnshaw, Labour; Sue Holt, Green Party, Richard Coates, Ukip, and Lance Quantrill, the Conservative Party. John Moore of the British National Party – Local People First did not attend.
After introducing themselves and explaining their connections to the area, candidates told voters what they along with their political party stand for, and the changes they think need to be made.
HIRA leader Anne Skennerton read out questions sent in by the audience before the event, while those who had more points to raise got their chance to do so towards the end of the meeting.
Residents asked questions about housing, infrastructure, public services and more.
Sue Holt of the Green Party spoke of her passions for the environment and social justice, and the need to address planning issues and the housing crises.
She said: ‘I’d like to see a healthy environment for Hampshire, and sound public services, just as a starter.’
Lance Quantrill, of the Conservatives, talked about the aging population and the need to protect them. He called for education to be looked at as providing young people with social opportunities as well as academic. But, he drew criticism from candidates and residents about his party’s cuts to public services.
Labour candidate Sheree Earnshaw vowed to fight for better health and social care, stating: ‘I don’t like injustices in society.’
She drew gasps from the audience for suggesting a second bridge be built to ease strain on the A3023, the only road on and off the island, but was praised for saying there should be a police station.
Ukip’s Richard Coates said he wanted to secure the future of the Hayling Ferry, while voicing his concerns about the trebling population, inadequate infrastructure and dwindling public services – much of which he said ‘has occurred under a Conservative-led local council, and a county council whose Conservative councillors are subject to their party’s central dictates’.
Lib Dem candidate Paul Gray also hit out at the Conservative cuts, while stating his main priority is to reverse them. He said: ‘All of you on the island have experienced cut after cut, and the consequences of them. You can continue to watch your services be decimated, or vote for us and get your community back.’