ELECTION 2015: Candidates set out their pitch for votes at Lynn News hustings event

Lynn News Hustings at COWA'Toby Coke, Hugh Lanham, Jo Rust, Henry Bellingham and Michael de Whalley ANL-150422-085107009
Lynn News Hustings at COWA'Toby Coke, Hugh Lanham, Jo Rust, Henry Bellingham and Michael de Whalley ANL-150422-085107009
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Lynn’s would-be MPs have set out their election pitches during a hustings event hosted by the Lynn News.

Around 80 voters attended the session, involving all five candidates contesting the North West Norfolk constituency, at the College of West Anglia on Tuesday.

Housing, health and immigration were among the topics up for discussion, but Conservative contender Henry Bellingham made the economy his central theme.

He argued the current government had made “pretty good progress” to tackle the economic problems it inherited on taking office five years ago.

He added: “There is still a long way to go but my point is very simple. Without a strong economy, you cannot have caring services. The key is to encourage enterprise and wealth creation.”

But Liberal Democrat Hugh Lanham said the successes Mr Bellingham claimed had only been made possible by his party’s support.

And he claimed he could offer voters the sort of real life experience he feels is lacking in politics.

He said: “I came to politics about six weeks ago and I’d like to represent North West Norfolk from a realistic background.”

The government representatives also clashed after Mr Lanham claimed the Construction Industry Training Board was considering pulling out of its Bircham Newton base.

Mr Bellingham said the claim was “absolute nonsense” and argued that the investment of companies like Bespak in expanding its Lynn site showed businesses’ backing for the area.

For Labour, Jo Rust said she was “proud” to be on the panel and knew what was important to voters.

She said: “I’m used to campaigning and fighting for the things that matter to the people I live and work amongst and I would be incredibly proud to do that campaigning as your next MP.”

She said her party’s plan to raise the minimum wage to £8 per hour would make a big difference to workers and the local economy, adding: “We need to be working together to ensure people can access employment.”

The Green Party’s Michael de Whalley outlined his party’s policy of a £10 per hour living wage and pledged to represent the constituency first and his party second if he is elected on May 7.

He said: “We believe in an efficient economy, which encourages innovation and science and seek to preserve the resources we have, rather than waste them.”

But UKIP’s Toby Coke claimed that only his party could offer the change that was needed to ensure greater prosperity for Britain.

He said the nation faced “grave decisions” about its future and warned: “You will not get change unless you vote for it.”

He also argued that companies would not invest in the area without proepr infrastructure being in place and warned of “gridlock” if the issue was not addressed.