VOTERS in Thornbury and Yate recently attended an election question time debate in the final run-up to polling day.

More than 120 members of the public attended the event at Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church on Wednesday, June 26.

Minister Tom Wharin chaired the discussion which was organised by Churches Together in Yate and Chipping Sodbury ahead of the General Election on Thursday, July 4. 

Parliamentary candidates at the debate included Alexandra Jenner-Fust (Green), Andy Banwell (Reform UK), Claire Young (Liberal Democrats) and Rob Logan (Labour).

However, notably incumbent MP Luke Hall (Conservative) failed to attend.

Organisers left an empty chair on the debate stage to highlight Mr Hall’s absence. 

The first question was asked by local student Zoe, who is not yet old enough to vote, and asked candidates what steps they would take to address the climate crisis.

Meanwhile, other questions from the audience covered the NHS, overseas aid and development, immigration, education, housing and the cost of living crisis.  

Introducing, Tom Wharin said: “We’re very grateful to the four candidates for coming this evening.

“We did invite all of the candidates. 

“I did tell Luke Hall at the outset, if he wasn't able to attend we would put an empty chair out so you don’t forget you can vote Conservative as well as voting for these folks.”

Defending his decision not to attend, Mr Hall previously told the Gazette he would be out meeting constituents on the doorstep instead.

During his introduction, Labour parliamentary candidate Mr Logan said: “The first thing I’m going to do as your MP is turn up, is that controversial?

“I should imagine it is a fairly minimal expectation for your representatives to hear what you have to say and then to account for their own actions. I will be accountable and visible.” 

Claire Young (Liberal Democrats) speaking at the debate - also pictured Minister Tom Wharin,  Rob Logan (Labour), Andy Banwell (Reform UK) and Alexandra Jenner-Fust (Green) (Image: Rich McD)

Speaking afterwards, Alexandra Jenner-Fust (Green) said: "It was a pleasure to meet so many politically engaged people and to have the opportunity to discuss vital issues from tackling climate change to the welcome we offer refugees. 

“Thank you to CTYCS for organising an event that brought the community together in constructive conversation.”

Andy Banwell (Reform) said: “Thank you for organising such a well-run and productive event.

“It was a pleasure to engage with the community in a positive and constructive manner.”

Claire Young (Liberal Democrats) said:  "Thank you to Churches Together for organising such well-attended hustings.

“It was a great opportunity to listen to people's concerns and debate our community and our country's future."

Rob Logan (Labour) said:  "There is no greater honour in politics than meeting residents and discussing their priorities. 

“We are very grateful to Churches Together in Yate and Chipping Sodbury for organising such a successful event."

You can view the entire debate which was live streamed on Chipping Sodbury Baptist Church’s YouTube channel here -

Mr Hall previously said: "I am fighting to protect our green spaces, deliver Thornbury Health Centre, put more police on our streets locally and further improve local transport. 

“I am spending every day between now and the election making that case on the doorsteps."

(Image: Rich McD)