Election Hustings, 17 June 2024 at Widcombe Social Club

Home News & Events Latest News Election Hustings, 17 June 2024 at Widcombe Social Club

Chair Rev Ian Suter 
Workers Party Matthew Alford
Colin Blackburn Independent
Teresa Hall Reform UK
Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrats
Dom Tristram, The Green Party

Of the candidates standing for Election of Member of Parliament for the Bath Constituency, the Conservative candidate (James Wright) and the Labour candidate (Dan Bewley) were unable to attend. Unfortunately this left the Election Hustings at the Widcombe Social Club with five candidates, but no representation from the two main parties. 

Organised by a group of local organisations (Rethinking Security Bath, Bath Stop War, Transition Bath, Bath XR and the Climate Hub B&NES), the hustings was targeting two key areas: war and defence and climate change and the environment. 

A summary of the candidates’ opening presentations:

Matthew Alford Workers Party
Experts have warned us that we are entering the most dangerous period in human history with the real danger of a third world war, and politicians have been denying this danger. Gaza is a moral stain on the nation. And with in the conflicts between China and Taiwan and Russia and Ukraine there were peace agreements in 2022 that could have led to their resolution. We need peace and security on our planet. 

Colin Blackburn Independent
A local resident, with a resolution to represent people in the city and hold the authorities to account. He wants to understand all the issues in our city and to engage with the community and learn what is needed. 

Teresa Hall Reform UK
An ex teacher of Religious Studies, she is representing Reform UK but is not necessarily loyal to Farage. She is frustrated by how the measures to reduce traffic in Bath have all been pointless and wants to create a wake-up call in Bath. 

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrats
What she likes most about Bath is YOU. She has acted as a local champion and the voice of Parliament. She recognises that there is hardship even in well-to-do Bath. She advocates always communicating with a reasonable tone. Some of the issues she has campaigned on are the return of a police station  in Bath, traffic reduction on Cleveland Bridge, upskirting, the lack of NHS dentists. She has spoken many times on the case for Net Zero and recognises that the climate and nature crisis is the most pressing issue to deal with. 

Dom Tristram Green Party
A conviction politician, he believes that political parties are so important because without them you don’t know what people stand for. We have to speak up for the environment. The big parties are giving lip service to climate change, and then say they can’t afford to enforce the change. Against nuclear weapons. 

Questions from audience: 

Q1: Nuclear Weapons will destroy life as we know it. How would the candidates reduce the risk of that happening?

Reform Party: Negotiation is the only way.

Workers: Multilateral disarmament. Use our strength to make the world better. Negotiate in the short term. 

Greens: £205B is the cost to replace Trident. We do this just so we have a seat at the table. We are choosing to pay for these weapons instead of feeding our children. 

Liberal Democrat: The nuclear deterrent works. It is costly but it has guaranteed peace. 

Q2: Do candidates agree with the renationalisation of central services?

Greens: For renationalisation of all public services. We have given private companies a monopoly, they take the value, load it with debt. Privatisation has ailed. A public service should run for people, not for profit. 

Reform: Considering renationalization of foreign companys, not against it. The infrastructure has had time to expand to rest of population. Population of Bath has grown immensely and we need to control the population. 

Liberal Democrat: Sewage scandal was a national disgrace and we should have privatised water companies and have had regulators with more power. There is so much debt again assets. Get rid of Ofwat which has failed and find a new regulator and ensure those with an environmental understanding are included on company boards. 

Workers: Yes to renationalisation and investment in public services. Likens energy of the Workers Party to Labour under John Smith.

Q3: Given the vast amount spent on defence, how do candidates plan to develop international policies for cooperation?

Lib Dems: Believe in the power of nuclear deterrent. It has worked. We need to focus on Net Zero as a priority. The massive amount of conflicts in the world today lead to lack of food and flooding. We need to an additional increase in our national development budget. And get to Net Zero fast.

Greens: The Green Party is not militarist. But the presence of tyrannical dictators means we need to spend money on defence as a part of Europe. We need closer integration with Europe in almost every way. Brexit was a big mistake.

Workers: We don’t think it’s the climate crisis that is the mostly likely issue to kill us. We are heading towards World War 3 in mainstream politics over the next five years. We are being lied to. Politicians are lying to us because the reality is so horrible to contemplate. Deterrents only work until they don’t.

Reform: We look to a strong Britain that can decide its future. We shouldn’t put our weapons down first. We need to invest more in our military defence.

Q4: Building regs question, broadened out to get candidates’ views on housing and need for new sustainable homes.

Workers: We are investing a lot of money in new homes. Open to new and environmentally friendly techniques of building sustainable homes.

Greens: There are many poorly insulated homes in Europe. We believe that new houses should meet Passivhaus standards. We need to spend £29B on existing houses to insulate it. If we don’t do this we spend more money on energy that’s wasted. The cost of insulation is a deposit on future savings.

Lib Dem: We need to follow Passivhaus standards in order to enforce Net Zero. We need well resourced local planning authorities and environmental enforcement officials. Net Zero has to be at the core of all building and their development.

Reform: The cost of heat pumps (which is subsidised by government) is drawing from £1000s of our taxes. Every time money changes hands it loses value. Insulation can be retrofitted outside as well as inside. All this is interference. If you stop taxing us, then maybe we can afford to buy heat pumps.

Q5: Should we be including military spending to achieve our Net Zero targets?

Lib Dem: The Armed Forces see the direct effects of climate change. Our spending has to be against mitigating the effects of climate change. Military equipment has a high carbon intensity. We must manage our energy systems to help us achieve Net Zero.

Greens: Military spending is all about making profits. Things can be solved without spending more on military weapons. We need to scale back the big spending and cut the budget.

Independent: Take new technologies and make them more permanent.

Workers: We can’t reform the military because we can’t create a green bomb. We need to create international peace treaties and multinational disarmament.

Reform: Very few people trust the science about climate change. There is a factor of climate alarmism. Net Zero is just another taxation scam.

Q6: The River Avon is one of our most polluted rivers. How would you clean it up?

Independent: Need to understand problem. 40% of polluted water is from agriculture.

Lib Dem: Water companies are scandalously polluting our rivers, combining rainwater with our sewage systems. This needs addressing and the two need to be separate.

Reform: Didn’t know there was such a big problem with the River Avon. Suggest more pumping stations.

Workers: The solution Is technical and scientific. Some problems can be mitigated by large public pressure. If you have a united society with less emphasis on rich and poor we would have stronger communities and the pressure to get things done.But it’s a race against time, against climate change and the military mindset.

Green: Need to separate these waste streams. We are suggesting a Ricght of Nature Act so those that harm and pollute the rivers face consequences.

There were additional questions from the audience. We have included those here that relate most to the work of Transition Bath.

What is the one thing you’d do to move Bath to Net Zero?

Lib Dem: Devolve decision making to local authorities and communities.

Greens: Increase public transport subsidy by £10B. Offer free bus transport. Make the city green and encourage use of green energy.

Workers: Net Zero is just one side of the equation. We need to think about country as a whole as an international system. there is only a limited impact that action can have locally. It has to be about broader policies. We need strong politicians willing and able to carry through controversial policies.

Reform: Create more affordable housing in Bath. Reduce growth of university which has overtaken the city. The answer is to stop inviting everyone and his mother to live here.

Independent: We should have a transport plan.

Environmental degradation and plastics crisis – how do we tackle this locally and globally?

Workers: Agree with the massive problem around recycling. Need people in Parliament to lobby for it. But the political will is lacking.

Independent: The future will bring an alternative substrate that will replace plastic packaging – but this is in the future.

Greens: Need to invest in plastic research. Need to reduce the use of single use plastic.

Lib Dem: there aer 38 different kinds of plastic. Canals are becoming the end destination of the waste. We must take responsibility for this.

Reform: Rubbish collection and recycling is a nonsense. Plastic should be stopped at source.

Can you evaluate your own carbon imprint?

Reform: I gave up my car and I walk everywhere.

Independent: I have cut down on my air travel and I have an electric car.

Workers: I use soap for washing, I shop seasonally, don’t buy anything from the Southern Hemisphere. I’ve got rid of my clapped out van and now have a smaller and more efficient car.

Greens: I have not flown since 2011. I’m vegetarian, almost vegan. I try and consume less.

Lib Dem: 30% of our carbon emissions are from service transport. I don’t have a car and use an electric bike. When I go to Europe I take the train. I am trying to be vegetarian!