Presenter Gail Mellors, with Chris Leslie (Independent Group for Change), Damien Smith (Brexit), Nadia Whittome (Labour), Robert Swift (Lib Dems), Victoria Stapleton (Conservatives) and Michelle Vacciana (Green)

The candidates for Nottingham East debated some of the most important local issues in a live hustings held at Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism.

In a heated discussion, the candidates explained why they deserve to be your next MP.

Chris Leslie held the seat for Labour until February this year when he joined The Independent Group For Change. The process to not hold a by-election was scrutinised by the candidates, who also debated topics including the gig economy and Brexit.

Mr Leslie was joined by Damian Smith for the Brexit Party, Nadia Whittome for Labour, Robert Swift for the Liberal Democrats, Victoria Stapleton for the Conservatives and Michelle Vacciana for the Greens.

Here’s a breakdown of how the drama unfolded:

Chris Leslie leaving Labour: was it a betrayal of voters?

On the issue of Chris leaving Labour, he said that his values didn’t change but he felt that Labour was not going to protect national security. Chris also wanted to take a stand against the alleged antisemitism in the party.

Damian, Victoria and Michelle think that there should have been a by election. Victoria and Michelle added that people should ‘have a say’ if their MP decides to move parties, whilst Damian said that it was ‘ridiculous’ that an MP can continue to stand with no election.

Asked if she thinks that people vote for a party or a person, Nadia said that people vote for a party. Robert said that it was the fault of the Labour party that Chris left, not the fault of Chris.


Video: Independent Group for Change candidate Chris Leslie talks about his views for Nottingham East

Should climate change be put above Brexit?

Damian denied the allegation that the Brexit party had ignored the climate crisis. He said that by leaving the European Union, the UK would no longer export waste to Asian countries and add to the plastic in the sea. Chris disagreed with Damian, saying that it is important to work with international partners to tackle climate change.

Robert said that climate change is ‘up there’ with Brexit and the Liberal Democrats are the ‘only party with a track record’ of fighting climate change. The party want 80% of all energy made by renewable sources by 2030.

Defending the Tories track record on climate change, Victoria said that carbon emissions have been coming down since they came into power in 2010. They also are ‘committed to ending coal fired electricity power stations’ by 2025.

When asked about Labour led Nottingham City Council’s work on tackling climate change, Nadia said that she is ‘proud’ of them for committing to end fuel poverty and becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Michelle said that the Green Party are pleased that the other parties are finally thinking about the climate as an important issue but it ‘shouldn’t have taken this long’.


Video: Green Party candidate Michelle Vacciana outlines her key policies

What’s wrong with our prison system and how do we fix it?

When faced with the issue that inmates in Nottingham’s prisons had died or taken their own lives, Robert, Chris and Nadia said that the prison system had been understaffed and under resourced in the past few years.

Victoria stood by the Tory policy on the decision to cut prison funding since the financial crisis. She now wants to see more investment in the system.

When touching on the issue of privatisation of prisons, Damian and Nadia expressed their disagreement with ‘profiting from prisoners’.

Michelle added that the causes of crime and prisoners’ quality of life needs to be looked into. The Green Party wants to improve funding in mental health services to make sure that people do not reoffend.


Video: Victoria Stapleton, candidate for The Conservative Party, explains her priorities for Nottingham East

Homelessness: How do we tackle it?

All candidates agreed that action needs to be taken to help the homeless in Nottingham East.

The Conservatives want to build one million new homes and invest in mental health and community support in order to help the people facing homelessness. Victoria said that the party has a commitment to ending rough sleeping by the end of the next parliament.

Nadia disagreed that rough sleeping needs to end by the end of the next parliament, explaining that Labour will end rough sleeping by the end of 2019.

Chris and Robert said that investing in housing is a priority for the Independent Group for change and the Liberal Democrats respectively, whilst Damian from The Brexit Party said that you need to speak to the people directly impacted by homelessness in order to know how to help them.


Video: Brexit Party candidate Damian Smith talking about his priorities

Zero hour contracts: How will you protect workers?

Both Nadia and Damian said that their parties will scrap zero hour contracts. Damian said that he would also tax online transactions to better fund independent stores in the city. Nadia explained that Labour would introduce a minimum wage of £10 an hour, paid for with progressive taxation.

Michelle agreed that zero hour contracts cause ‘a disparity between the worker and the organisation’ and is concerned by the lack of workers rights which zero hour contracts cause.

Victoria and Robert added that zero hour contracts suit some people. Robert highlighted that they shouldn’t ‘become the standard’. Robert said that the Liberal Democrats will incentivise employers to turn zero hour contracts into full permanent ones by introducing a 20% premium on wages to staff on these contracts.

Chris said that workers on zero hour contracts should receive more notice about their shift patterns.


Video: Liberal Democrat candidate Robert Swift talks about what he wants to improve in Nottingham East

What are your priorities for Nottingham East?

Nadia wants to end child poverty by scrapping universal credit, funding free school meals and building ‘fit for purpose council housing’

Robert’s priorities include investing in infrastructure by building a new bridge over the river Trent and extending the city’s tram system.

Victoria agrees that investing in infrastructure is a priority and she wants to focus on building more affordable housing.

Michelle wants to work with young people to make sure they ‘have the basics’ before going to school and improve young peoples’ engagement with each other.

Damian said that the Brexit Party wants to scrap HS2 and use the money to fund public services.

Chris will vote against Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and campaign to keep the UK within the EU.


Video: Nadia Whittome, Labour Party candidate, outlines what she wants to do as an MP

The next live hustings will be between candidates from the Broxtowe constituency on 10th December at 11:30am. You can watch it on the Nottingham Post Facebook page.