There was a good turnout for the environmental hustings in Arundel this week, with over 140 people attending. They saw a lively debate and heard a wide range of opinions from both the candidates and the audience. Interestingly, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) Nick Herbert, who had said he wasn’t attending turned up at the last minute. While his interaction with the organisers left something to be desired, it was good that he attended as such an important issue deserves the full engagement of all political parties.
Recent research from the polling organisation YouGov found that voters wanted to hear more from politicians on the environment. Indeed this was the top option alongside education, and its pertinent that both are incredibly important for our future. Yet all we have largely heard is how much money they are going to shower us with should we vote for them. It’s as though the election has turned into a rather farcical public auction, where the parties know the price of everything and the value of nothing. That may be a tad unfair but the very narrow focus within this election on the economy and the NHS is depressing given that there is so much else at stake.
While the hustings at Arundel was broadened out to include wider environmental issues, the debate naturally focussed back on the Government proposals to expand the A27. Strong views were expressed and there were some voices in support of the proposals, but by far the feeling within the audience and the majority of candidates was that while something needed to be done, the proposals to date were unacceptable and more options needed to be considered.
Details of the debate can be found on the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee website which has produced a reasonably detailed summary of what was said by each candidate. There’s also a fairly full account of the evening on the CPRE Sussex website.