Conservative, Labour and Reform candidates join forces to criticise Lib Dems over hustings event

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Fareham and Waterlooville candidates

Conservative, Labour and Reform UK General Election candidates have joined forces to hit out at the Liberal Democrats for ‘bad faith behaviour’ over election hustings in Fareham.

A hustings, where election candidates debate policies and answer questions from the audience, has been organised at Knowle Village Hall for tomorrow evening for candidates standing for the Fareham and Waterlooville sea, which includes Denmead, Wickham and Knowle.

Confusion started when the Fareham Liberal Democrats organised a hustings on the same night for the same candidates at Cams Hill School in Shearwater Avenue.

A press release from the Lib Dems, titled ‘Battle of the Hustings’ was sent out claiming Conservative candidate Suella Braverman, who has represented the area since 2015, would not attend and the hustings organised by Wickham and Knowle Parish Council for June 28th had been cancelled.

They said an event had therefore been set up at Cams Hill School and the headteacher would moderate the evening so there would be no bias. But the party then claimed the Knowle hustings were re-booked and the Lib Dems excluded.

A joint statement from three candidates, Suella Braverman (Con), Gemma Furnival (Lab) and Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Reform UK), was issued and while they admitted they may disagree on many things, they criticised the ‘misinformation’ from the Lib Dems as the Knowle hustings are going ahead.

Conservative campaigner and former Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward said it is not considered right that parties organise their own hustings as there would be natural bias. He said: “The Liberal Democrats have tried to take down one hustings, replace it with another and it’s blown up in their faces.”

The Cams Hill School event, now cancelled, had attracted 80 bookings.  

Reform UK’s Mr Chippindall-Higgin said: “The hustings audience at Knowle Village Hall will end up being unbalanced and this cannot be right. I am more than happy to meet the other candidates head on with regard to record and policy but this sort of activity is beyond the pale.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Bella Hewitt is now confirmed as attending the Knowle Village Hall hustings, along with Tory, Labour and Reform candidates.

In response to the joint statement, the Lib Dems said the alternative hustings had been organised as they thought it was clear a “larger, more central and accessible, venue (capacity 250+)” should be used. They said people were struggling to book places and there were concerns some would have difficulty reaching the event by public transport.

Knowle hustings organiser Councillor Craig Manuel said there are 130 booked to attend. He said they are waiting for the final two candidates to confirm their attendance before more tickets may be released. Questions are submitted in advance, the parish council will select a mix of questions covering a range of topics. On the night each candidate will be given two minutes to answer each question.

The joint statement from Conservative, Labour and Reform UK, Fareham and Waterlooville parliamentary candidates for the general election on July 4 said: “We are taking the unprecedented step of releasing a joint statement to clear up the confusion about the planned hustings event on June 28. We will both be attending the independently organised event run by Wickham Parish Council, held at Knowle Village Hall.

“This was the original event to be planned but the Liberal Democrats tried to organise their own event. They have shared misinformation both with us as candidates and on social media about our planned attendance at both events. 

“While this has been reported through the appropriate channels we want to make sure that as many people as possible can attend a hustings event in this election period. While we disagree on many things, we both feel very strongly that people deserve the chance to question their potential elected representatives in an open and democratic way.”

The candidates for Fareham and Waterlooville for July 4’s general election:

Suella Braverman – The Conservative Party

Kevan Chippindall-Higgin – Reform UK

Edward Dean – Rejoin EU

Gemma Furnivall – Labour Party

Bella Hewitt – Liberal Democrats

Robert Holliday – Hampshire Independents

Baz Marie – Green Party

Meet the candidates for the Fareham and Waterlooville constituency

Which constituency am I in?

This newly named constituency brings together parts of the Fareham and Meon Valley areas. The eastern half of the old Fareham seat, including the town centre, West End and Portchester, joins with Waterlooville, Southwick, Denmead, Wickham and Knowle. Overall the new constituency features 54.4. per cent of the former Fareham seat’s population and 46.1 per cent of Meon Valley.

You can find out which constituency you live in here and where you vote here.

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