Election debate hots up at business hustings

Chairman Robert Wilson and political candidates
Chairman Robert Wilson and political candidates

It was question time for East Dunbartonshire General Election candidates last week when they took part in a special hustings meeting.

Six parties were vying to win over voters at the event held in McGregor House, and organised by Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce.

Despite the meeting taking place for two hours over a lunchtime, dozens of people turned out to put their questions to the candidates in a Question Time-style format.

Voters packed the hall to quiz Ross Greer (Greens); Amanjit Jhund (Labour); John Nicolson (SNP); Andrew Polson (Conservative); Jo Swinson (LibDems) and Jamie Robertson, who was a substitute for the UKIP candidate Wilfred Arasaratnam.

The lively event heard debate about zero hours contracts, fairness in pension reform, the single transferable vote, water privatisation, breaking up the union, Christianity in politics, abortion, assisted suicide, EU, the state of the ambulance fleet and many other topics.

Local topics at the top of the agenda included the proposed removal of traffic lights and kerbs at the Catherine Street junction and its impact on Kirkintilloch town centre and on disabled and vulnerable people, and redevelopment plans for the site of the former council HQ. Also included was the campaign to return chemotherapy services to Stobhill, with local campaigner Tom Herbert challenging each candidate on their own action plan on the issue.

Chaired by local businessman Robert Wilson, the event allowed all six candidates the chance to persuade people to vote for them or their parties.

Candidates were happy to be outspoken on party politics, individual votes where they didn’t toe the party line and non-whip matters such as abortion and assisted suicide.

The event was introduced by the president of Dunbartonshrie Chamber of Commerce, Stuart Rennie, who summed up by urging everyone to vote, whatever their allegiance was. And he pledged that his non-political body would work with whoever was elected.