Scarborough Sixth Form election debate: here's how candidates responded to questions put to them by students

Three of the four candidates fighting for the Scarborough and Whitby seat on December 12 have taken part in a debate with college students.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 4:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 6:48 pm

Conservative Robert Goodwill, Labour's Hugo Fearnley and Robert Graham Lockwood from the Liberal Democrats visited Scarborough Sixth Form College today to answer questions put to them by 16 to 18-year-olds.

At the start of the hour-long debate, each candidate was given five minutes to make their opening speech. Mr Goodwill took the opportunity to focus on Brexit, arguing that the upcoming election "is all about trust".

"We trusted the people to make that decision over whether to leave the EU and we should deliver on that decision," he said.

Candidates Robert Goodwill, Hugo Fearnley and Robert Graham Lockwood at the Sixth Form College.

According to Mr Fearnley though, "this is not the Brexit election"; protecting the environment, he said, is far more important.

"We have 11 years left to stop the most catastrophic effects of climate change so whatever we do about Brexit, that has to be superseded by what we do about the climate."

As for Graham Lockwood, the opening speech was a chance to express his wish for 16 and 17-year-olds to be able to vote, adding that young people are "the leader and the future of this country".

After introducing themselves to the audience, candidates were asked a series of questions on topics ranging from social care, education and the environment.

Scarborough Sixth Form College election debate.

On the issue of social care, Mr Goodwill stated that a "functioning economy" is necessary to raise the money needed to fund services. Mr Fearnley spoke of cracking down on tax evasion and tax avoidance to put more money into the system while Mr Lockwood made the case for 1% of everyone's income tax bill to go towards the NHS.

As far as education is concerned, a question put to the Labour candidate read: "With the Labour Party promising no tuition fees, how are you guys going to make sure the university system doesn't end up with the same faults our state school system has of underfunding and understaffing?"

If the education system is "fully funded", replied Mr Fearnley, something Labour would achieve through putting taxes up for anyone earning more than £80,000, "it's perfectly reasonable and indeed sensible that we have an education system that is not based on people coming out of higher education with £50,000 worth of debt."

Speaking on the same issue Mr Goodwill stated instead that the current system "does work" and that the debt is "manageable to pay back". "You only begin to pay it back if you earn more than £25,000 and you only pay back what you can afford."

Scarborough Sixth Form election debate.

During the debate the Conservative candidate, who has been the town's MP since 2005, was also challenged on his voting record, having previously voted against same sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

In answer to the question, Mr Goodwill explained it was a matter of devolution, arguing that it was "up to Northern Ireland" to decide on the issue.

The Conservative candidate was also asked to justify decisions taken by the Conservative Party surrounding the ongoing production of plastic, the expansion of Heathrow Airport and fracking.

Despite claiming that the Government has "a good record on the environment", Mr Goodwill admitted that "we need to do a lot more".

Lib Dem candidate Robert Graham Lockwood addressing the audience.

Finally, students asked the three candidates if they trust their party leaders. All of them replied positively, however, Mr Fearnley urged students to "look at the policies before focusing too much on the individual candidates".