Students get their chance to put questions to Bury St Edmunds prospective parliamentary candidates
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Funding for full-time students and whether to give 16-year-olds the vote were some of the issues raised by young people at a general election hustings in Bury St Edmunds.
Today, four of the five prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) for the seat, Jo Churchill (Conservative), Helen Geake (Green), Bill Edwards (Labour) and David Chappell (Liberal Democrats), were at West Suffolk College to answer questions put by students.
Firstly, the issue of funding was raised, with the question: “Why does the Government not provide full-time students, who have no time for a job, with universal financial support, especially when you all claim to look at the ‘long-term goals’ for our economic climate?”
While Mrs Churchill said she had a “degree of sympathy with you,” she said her children had had to have a job since they were 14, including while at university.
“It would be lovely to provide you with such a thing, but anyone who promises you that could be part of your training is giving you a disservice.”
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Mr Chappell and Mr Edwards also raised how difficult funding through education would be to do, but Dr Geake said people might be prepared to pay more, through taxation, for such things.
On whether people should be given the right to vote at 16, the Labour and Lib Dem PPCs supported this aspiration, but Mrs Churchill disagreed as she was not aware enough young people want it.
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She said a survey she had carried out locally with secondary schools and the college revealed young people did not feel empowered or educated enough in the world of politics to have the vote.
Dr Geake, whose party’s policy is for voting from 16, asked the students how many of them wanted to see the voting age lowered and only a few raised their hands.
“That’s very surprising,” she said.
How to cater for the increase in mental health problems experienced by teenagers with both prevention and resolution was another key topic as well as how to encourage employers to take on students for work placements.