PROSPECTIVE parliamentarians came face to face last week in a series of hustings held across Harrow.
Constituents were given the opportunity to quiz those fighting it out for the Harrow West seat on Monday night as North Harrow Methodist Church invited Gareth Thomas (Labour), Rachel Joyce (Conservative) and Chris Noyce (Liberal Democrats) to answer questions.
It was a slightly different story for Harrow East hopefuls Tony McNulty (Lab), Bob Blackman (Con) and Nahid Boethe (Lib Dem) however, who had to answer to Harrow's next generation of voters at Whitchurch Middle School.
Although the pupils at the school in Wemborough Road, Stanmore, are not eligible to vote at the election, they were keen to quiz the candidates on a number of issues which could affect their future.
Questions about child obesity, youth violence, the environment, faith schools and the need for SATs were fired at the candidates before the children, aged between nine and 11 were given tips on running in their own elections on May 6.
Speaking after the debate, 12-year-old Helena Poulloura, said: "It was an exciting experience as we got to see what the main candidates for Harrow East had to say about education."
Ten-year-old Shreya Karsan, who is a candidate herself in the forthcoming school elections, added: "The whole experience of meeting the three candidates was amazing and extremely interesting to find out about their views on our future."
Joanne Daswani, deputy headteacher, who organised the event, was grateful to the candidates, who gave up their valuable time for the children.
She said: "Low participation of young people in the electoral process is an especially salient problem since it risks leaving them feeling disengaged in politics and the democratic process for a long time.
"The pupils at our school do not have a vote yet but by participating in the democratic process at a young age, they will hopefully become engaged and informed citizens and voters when they reach voting age. The school's election will give the pupils an opportunity to have a say on issues relating to education and young people.
"They will assume the responsibilities of returning officers, canvassers, press officers and speech writers, while experiencing the electoral process through the use of ballot papers and boxes, voting booths, as well as making sure they are registered to vote." ..