The five men hoping to wrest Sir Greg Knight’s grip on the East Yorkshire constituency made a late bid for more votes at an election debate in Bridlington on Monday evening.
They lined up at the Priory Church to discuss fracking, foreign aid and other local, national and international issues.
Sir Greg, who has held the seat since 2001 said it was ‘with regret’ that he was unable to attend because of a prior engagement and his decision had an impact on the dynamic of the debate.
The Rector of Bridlington Priory, the Rev Matthew Pollard chaired the debate, assistant by the Rev Richard Hare from Emmanuel Church, whose meticulous time-keeping ensured each of the five candidates had an equal chance to speak.
Rev Pollard said: “I’m grateful that the members of the public have engaged with so many questions on a good range of issues.”
Proceedings began with a minute’s silence, and a prayer to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
The format of the evening saw the five men given a five-minute spot to speak about their personal background and their party’s policies.
After that there were questions sent in by the public which they were given two minutes each to respond to.
Labour’s Alan Clark spoke about the need for a better infrastructure. “The roads are absolutely dreadful here in Bridlington alone. I think I need a new spring on my car”.
Andrew Dennis of UKIP said: “I have seen this area suffer from neglect from County Hall from one party or another. We need to the reverse lack of investment.”
Green Party representative Mike Jackson said climate change was ‘the elephant in the room’. “I’m not into competitive arguing. I want to look at a problem and fix it,” he added.
Carl Minns from the Liberal Democrats said he had stood for election because he was against the polarisation of political debate.
“We don’t talk or debate any more. We accuse each other,” he said.
Tim Norman, for the Yorkshire Party, told the audience: “Yorkshire is bigger than Scotland and Wales. We have no voice because we have no figurehead.”
Rev Pollard read out a 500-word statement from Sir Greg, which said the election was a straight choice between the leaders of the two main parties.
“By voting for me. you are also giving your support to Theresa May. A vote for any other candidate is effectively a vote for Jeremy Corbyn.”
The first question asked about how to improve employment opportunities for Bridlington , and drew respnses about better broadband, an improved road and rail network and funding for small businesses.
All five men then said they were opposed to fracking and confirmed they had no shares in shale gas companies.
The debate then moved on to the NHS, Brexit and overseas aid, which drew the biggest reaction from the audience.
The final question asked the candidates if they would give up their jobs to become a full-time MP.
All said they would, although Mr Minns said he would like to volunteer to continue his passion for maths teaching and Mr Dennis said he would be obliged to stop work as he is employed by UKIP.