Thursday, April 29, 2010

Darlington Churches Debate

Although they have been hawking their wares before some exotic audiences before now (most recently local estate agents) tonight was potentially the defining moment for Darlington's 3 hopeful PPCs (together with UKIP representative Charlotte Bull) at the traditional Churches Debate.

I estimate over 200 people packed themselves into the school hall at Polam to listen to Jenny, Mike, Edward and Charlotte. This is the first election since the 1983 by-election when none of the main parties are fielding a sitting candidate, so the stakes are high. The debate ran for 2 hours. For me, these were the highlights;

Edward responding to a question about what he would do for young people by responding he would make voting compulsory for the under-25's. Not a policy to rouse the nation's teenagers out of bed anytime before lunch.

Mindful of Gordon's predicament, Jenny cracking a joke about not wanting to be wired up after problems with the sound system.

Edward accusing Jenny of going on "frolics" not mentioned in Labour's manifesto, before setting out on a jaunt of his own by suggesting he supported the re-regulation of the bus industry.

Mike engaged in a tortuous form of words when responding to a question about future VAT rises - faced with the awful possibility that might actually be part of the next Government, LibDems are finally having to give responsible answers to sensible questions!

All the candidates pledging they would spend 100% of their time on working for the constituency. (I think this got the biggest cheer of the night).

On balance, I was impressed by all the candidates. Edward was a bit too sure of himself, and heavy-handed on the politics (he rather misjudged the auduence in this respect, I thought). Mike and Jenny scored heavily in their contrasting styles, whilst Charlotte probably helped explode the stereotype some of us have of UKIP members being a bunch of gin-swilling golf club bores.

Needless to say, I felt that Jenny gave the best all-round performance, but there was something to cheer for the supporters of each of the main parties. Roll on May 6th!


james said...

Legard appeared a little over-condident. But, hey, maybe that's me being parochial.

I thought it was interesting he doesn't sign up to Cameron's "broken Britain". Presumably he's also a bit iffy on the "big society", the "great ignored" and other slogans that sounded good in the pub.

Anonymous said...

How on earth is he going to make voting compulsory for under 25's?

Half don't bother going to Court on the day they are supposed to clearly prison does not frighten them?

ianh said...

Legard said last night that he does not sign up to the "Broken Britain" line (as promoted by his leader and the murdoch press)
Strange that...

A few days ago at the Sixth Form college he said to the students that Britain was broken and used that very phrase.(my daughter was one of the students)
So much for him speaking his mind and being a free thinker.

Just another wannabe MP prapared to manipulate his line according to the audience.

As for the rest of the evening i must admit to hoping for a bit more "cut and thrust" from both the audience and candidates, but as you say this is probably down to the type of occassion, being a church organised event.

Mike Barker said...

Ian, I think the cut and thrust was hampered by the fact that we were only allowed to speak with the microphone. If we'd had one each we could have interjected more.

My totally unbiased friend Fred Lawton actually scored each question and totted up the points at the end. He gave me a one point lead over Legard, with Jenny ten points back in third.

And, if I'd brought crib sheets like the other three, instead of relying on my memory and wits, maybe you wouldn't have had to sirt through such a tortuous explanation of our position on VAT ;-)

ianh said...

Hi Mike,
To be fair last nights event was never going to be the rabble rousing event that i was rather looking forward to...

If nothing else, each candidates personality certainly shone through and was certainly worthwhile for that alone.

Not being a Darlington voter my view counts for little but i think a 3 way split is increasingly likley in Darlington and like everyone else,(even our esteemed cllrs) i have no idea which way this will go.

Ian W said...

Like the other Ian, I too cannot vote out here in the sticks for someone who has probably more sway over Hurworth than the Sedgefield MP, I must say I was a little disapointed to see the Sedgefield line up, obviously Wilson, but the others either had no logo so I had no idea who or what they stood for, the Conservative man is from Kent and probably knows nothing about the Darlington Area and the Lib man is from Northumberland so equally the same scenario, I would have thought at least the Lib's could have found a more local and recognised candidate for out here.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

The sooner Hurworth, Neasham Middleton St. George and Sadberge are brought into the Darlington Parliamentary Constituency the better. It's daft that Sedgefield snakes round Darlington the way it does.

The boundary of the two constituencies could be the back road from Great Burdon to Sedgefield. Sorry Nick you would still have to vote in Sedgefield.

Ian W said...

I agree Alan the affairs in Darlington effect us more out here than in Sedgefield.

We have been waiting eons for a bus stop to be moved from outside the Nag's Head pub.

Promises after promises first it was new year then it was when the civil parking enforcement was up and making a mint with fines (sorry running efficiently) now apparently that is still not up and running correclty so it is now May and the bus stop is still there.

How can we have faith in a Council that cannot move one bus stop, but when it comes to complaining we are technically in sedgefield??

It didn't take NASA this long to get Armstrong on the Moon :(

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Thanks Ian. Where would you put the new bus stop?

ian W said...

Anywhere within reason away from outside a pub. So many Hurworth residents have complained about it and the associated feeling of uncomfortableness on dark winter nights ranging to fighting actually spilling out onto the street with stools and pool cues.

Just a thought Alan what about a town bus station?

We have a water feature, a set of flashing flag poles, a brick train, an ETC 10,000 foot above it's original height, would a central covered in bus station (perhaps with a few shops or a cafe) not be a good idea, I know many other areas have tried them with great success.

The fact is we have been promised and promised that this will be moved and nothing is getting done it's a bus stop not rocket science ....but no the civil parking golden goose must come before peoples piece of mind and personal security!

Perhaps the good bus users of Hurworth could employ Sparta Security to guard their return home stop!

Alan for a full update on this fiasco and the stalling time scale it has been on I suggest you speak with Cllr Dunstone, I asume you know him.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

I was going to mention a bus station in my previous posting. Yes Darlington should have a bus station. It was in the Lib Dems Election Manifesto for the Local Elections in 2007. The argument runs from the Labour side that the bus companies don't want one and will not use it, but I am sure that such opposition can be overcome. Perhaps having small shuttle buses taking shoppers into the Pedestrian Heart and out again to the bus station? I favour using the old bus station site in Feethams. There is really nowhere closer to the Pedestrian Heart, unless you can suggest one?

I witnessed the absolute chaos and frayed tempers last Saturday afternoon from High Row when there was a van parked opposite the entrance to the Cornmill Shopping Centre on the High Row side, buses were parked right along towards Priestgate and the buses could not get through.

There was also chaos in Tubwell Row last Friday afternoon when I drove up from the ring road. Buses lined up on both sides of Tubwell Row, one trying to squeeze through just as I was driving up which narrowed the gap considerably and pedestrians were milling around.

You are not the only one to complain about the bus stop outside the Nags Head and the unsavoury behavour. A reporter from the Northern Echo has to wait at that bus stop for his bus home and he has witnessed what you have.

Leave it with me Ian. I will write to Malcolm Dunstone and let you know what happens.

Ian W said...


In my opinion it is not a pedestrian heart it is a make over of the old one, how can it be a Phart when as you point out vans and busses are in it?

The old High Row should have been given a face lift granted but to call this new water featured monstrocity anything with the word pedestrian in is utter rubbish.

A true pedestrian heart is where people can walk about without the fear of traffic at all and having to keep looking out for traffic?