Weston-super-Mare General Election candidates debate in hustings

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:28 20 April 2015

John Penrose, Dr Richard Lawson, John Munro, Ernie Warrender and Tim Taylor.

John Penrose, Dr Richard Lawson, John Munro, Ernie Warrender and Tim Taylor.

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FIVE of Weston's parliamentary candidates took part in a hustings event last week.

It was held at The Hive, and was organised by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Weston Chamber of Trade.

The Mercury attended, and here are some of the answers to some key questions:

John Penrose - The Conservative Party.
1) Opening remarks.

“Weston’s staying-on-at-school rate was right below average, now it is well above average. It’s not just about having an emerging university and a new student place but also being a great for place to find people who have skills. We also need better rail links.”

2) What is your policy on zero hour contracts?

“The Small Business Bill made sure there cannot be exclusivity. Zero hour contracts, when properly governed, can be very important for employer and employee.”

3) What revolution will you start to help schools with their relationship and understanding of business?

“For years, schools have been set up to prepare pupils for academic success rather than necessarily for the world of work. We have got to be much broader and give them better training. We need to continue to promote apprenticeships.”

4) What urgency can you bring to getting superfast broadband?

“For an awful lot of businesses, decent, ordinary broadband which is reliable will be a good enough step forward. There are too many slow speeds or companies putting ringfences around where they want to sell expensive packages.”

Dr Richard Lawson - The Green Party.

1) Opening remarks.

“The Green Party is friendly towards small businesses and wants to help small businesses and reform tax by getting big corporations to pay their tax to transform the economics of the country.”

2) What is your policy on zero hour contracts?

“17 per cent of zero hour contracts are students, but this is the minority. This is why we have the concept of the basic income. People are locked in where if they find a job, their benefits are whipped away which may mean no money at all.”

3) What revolution will you start to help schools with their relationship and understanding of business?

“We have to revolutionise education by saying where does food come from, who builds a house, so people understand what economics is about. We need to build up understanding of what work is about.”

4) What urgency can you bring to getting superfast broadband?

“It is clearly very important. This is something the Government doesn’t understand – it’s called investment – but if we put money into something, we get more out of it as a result.”

Tim Taylor - The Labour Party.
1) Opening remarks.

“My vision for Weston is it needs to be safe and welcoming and where people want to live and visit and do business. Without Weston being a good place to do business, we don’t have a successful or secure future.”

2) What is your policy on zero hour contracts?

“We are not outlawing them. But when a person has been signed to one for 12 weeks, it triggers a conversation between the employer and employee. They are dangerous in the wrong hands. We are trying to redress the balance.”

3) What revolution will you start to help schools with their relationship and understanding of business?

“Historically, the relationship between schools and businesses is with work experience being a tick box. It’s all about relationships so organisations can go out and talk to schools and instil a business mindset in the educational system.”

4) What urgency can you bring to getting superfast broadband?

“We have to get superfast broadband right. It means taking some difficult decisions and finding the money to do it. We have to compete in the world so I think it is a bullet we need to bite.”

John Munro - The Liberal Democrats.
1) Opening remarks.

“Weston has been taken for granted for far too long. It seems to be that people have been content for Weston to potter along. We need to create

conditions for people to get jobs and high quality jobs so people can get on and build their lives locally.”

2) What is your policy on zero hour contracts?

“I started my working life on a zero hour contract at a supermarket in Weston. It worked for me. They are not evil. But the Government does need to go after abusive employers.”

3) What revolution will you start to help schools with their relationship and understanding of business?

“The revolution is for good career advice. We have not had it for generations. If we have decent career education or bring businesses together with schools, parents and children we can get started on changing people’s lives.”

4) What urgency can you bring to getting superfast broadband?

“Superfast broadband is unbelievably important. Sometimes we need to borrow money to invest, to generate future returns. Because this is infrastructure to create jobs we need and don’t exist yet.”

Ernie Warrender - UKIP.
1) Opening remarks.

“We have the college, and we have to get it full university status because business doesn’t see Weston as a centre of business excellence. There are incredibly intelligent people and amazing business down here, it just needs a little more help.”

2) What is your policy on zero hour contracts?

“They have a place in the workplace but what has happened is businesses have abused them. But we will never legislate bad employers out of existence. We support zero hour contracts, but don’t support the abuse of them.”

3) What revolution will you start to help schools with their relationship and understanding of business?

“We need appropriate education. A driving test doesn’t prepare people to drive, it prepares them to pass a test. The one-size-fits-all system doesn’t work. We struggle to find young people with a work ethic grateful to have a job and who want to graft.”

4) What urgency can you bring to getting superfast broadband?

“There has to be investment. I don’t believe to keep borrowing and borrowing. All three sides of Government have borrowed too much on things like foreign aid. Money can be found for these things.”

* For more election coverage, visit our dedicated page.

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