About 40 people were at Barton Peveril College Friday evening for a specially arranged hustings on behalf of the ‘Ask the Climate Question’ campaign.
A number of organisations including Christian Aid, Greenpeace and Oxfam have organised the series of hustings to give voters a chance to hear local candidate’s views on climate change.
Chris Huhne (liberal Democrat) Maria Hutchings (Con) and Leo Barraclough (Labour) stated their positions on the climate question and answered questions from the audience.
All three politicians were broadly in agreement on a number of related issues, the only notable difference came from Chris Huhne who explained that he was opposed to Nuclear Power on the grounds of economic viability.
It was short meeting which only got going when Maria Hutchings used her closing remarks to launch a coruscating attack on the Liberal Democrat controlled Eastleigh Borough council.
Ms Hutchings questioned Eastleigh council’s beacon status for ‘tackling climate change’ using the loss of allotments, the proposed SDA development at Botley, the ‘Go Ape’ franchise at West End and the housing development at Dowd’s farm as examples of eco unfriendly local government claiming:
“We cannot trust the Liberal Democrat council with our local area”
It was a passionately delivered speech which met with applause.
This provoked a quick response from Chris Huhne who proceeded to refute Ms Hutchings allegations – some bickering then ensued between the two close rivals with Ms Hutchings saying to the chairman:
‘I would like a right of reply to something he (Chris Huhne) has alleged that I have alleged’
At the end of the evening Eastleigh News was able to speak to two of the three audience members from whom questions had been taken by the panel.
Student Charlotte West and Geography teacher Ian Holt both felt the candidates had answered their questions well. Charlotte West preferred Chris Huhne’s answer to her question on nuclear power as it matched her own views and Ian Holt said he also preferred Chris Huhne’s answer –though he said it was not due to content but to presentation:
“I thought Chris Huhne came across well as he was very clear and precise – but perhaps that is due to a career in Journalism”
The election in this most marginal constituency has developed into tight race and there has been some friction between the two parties. Both have complained that their signs have been tampered with and on Saturday in an interview with Politics.co.uk Ms Hutchings claimed that the Liberal Democrats were ‘playing a dirty game’ – an allegation Mr Huhne’s office would not comment on.