York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings in Whitby sees candidates clash on transport, housing and education

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A mayoral election hustings held in Whitby saw candidates clash on housing, education, and transport issues affecting the town.

Candidates running to be the first mayor of the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority attended the hustings, organsied by Whitby Community Network, at Whitby Pavilion on Monday April 15.

Around 60 residents and four of the six candidates were present and answered questions on a range of topics including secondary education in the town, tourism, transport and accessibility.

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Present at the hustings were Felicity Cunliffe-Lister (Liberal Democrat Party), Kevin Foster (Green Party), Paul Haslam (Independent), and Keith Tordoff (Independent).

Whitby Community Network organised the York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings.Courtesy Anttoni Numminen/LDRSWhitby Community Network organised the York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings.Courtesy Anttoni Numminen/LDRS
Whitby Community Network organised the York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings.Courtesy Anttoni Numminen/LDRS

Labour’s David Skaith cancelled his attendance last minute due to a family emergency and the Conservative’s Keane Duncan said he was not able to attend due to a conflicting engagement.

Residents were eager to quiz the candidates about their views on topics such as the creation of a new single secondary school.

Paul Haslam said he would “support the improvement of education for younger age groups” and Felicity Cunliffe-Lister said she “would support that if that is the best way forward” adding that “children should have better access to skills and training when they leave school”.

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However, the politicians pointed out that issues such as secondary education do not fall within the powers of the new mayor, whereas adult education does.

The York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings which took place in Whitby.Courtesy Anttoni Numminen/LDRSThe York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings which took place in Whitby.Courtesy Anttoni Numminen/LDRS
The York and North Yorkshire mayoral hustings which took place in Whitby.Courtesy Anttoni Numminen/LDRS

There were several questions about housing and how homes could be made available to locals and key workers instead of being converted into holiday lets.

Kevin Foster told residents: “This needs a lot of work to get it right.

"When I build houses in Yorkshire [as mayor], I will build 60 per cent of social housing, no ifs or buts.”

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Keith Tordoff said: “If we’re going to sustain our high streets, the shops need people to live there.

"Second home tax money should go to communities [that it came from].”

Candidates were also asked what they would do to improve transport in the Whitby area “bearing in mind the worst rail line in the UK with five slow trains a day and a decimated, unreliable bus service”.

One resident said a lack of public transport was a major concern for them “especially as I get older and may not be able to drive anymore… I feel trapped.”

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All four candidates agreed that improving the park-and-ride facility could alleviate some of the issues alongside additional measures.

Felicity Cunliffe-Lister said her tourism strategy would “focus on the need to encourage tourists to not use a car at all but use the park and ride or use buses and trains for their whole journeys”.

Paul Haslam called for a “bespoke and fully accessible transport system” adding that “the whole of Whitby could be permit parking for residents while tourists use the park and ride”.

Kevin Foster said: “We need to invest in park and ride, encourage tourists to use it, and we need to develop cycling infrastructure.”

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Keith Tordoff said there was a “huge issue in getting an integrated transport system working”.

The candidates standing in the North Yorkshire Mayoral election are:

  • Paul Haslam – Independent
  • David Skaith – Labour and Co-operative Party
  • Keith Tordoff – Independent
  • Felicity Cunliffe-Lister – Liberal Democrats
  • Keane Duncan – The Conservative Party
  • Kevin Foster- The Green Party