The Kensington & Chelsea Social Council (KCSC) hustings took place at the Town Hall on Friday (April 24) and was attended by seven of the nine candidates contesting the Kensington seat in the May 7 poll.
Parties represented were UKIP (Jack Bovill), Lib Dems (Robin McGhee), Greens (Robina Rose), Labour (Rod Abouharb), Alliance for Green Socialism (Tobias Abse), Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol (Tony Auguste) and Conservatives (Victoria Borwick).
KCSC supports locally focused voluntary and community organisations serving the people of the borough. Over 50 contributed their views on what they think our politicians should be doing after May 7, which formed the basis of many of the questions asked.
Chief executive Angela Spence said the group had arranged the hustings to ensure candidates were aware of issues facing the voluntary and community based organisations and what was important to them.
She said: “It was important they got to understand the big things that concerned us. The voluntary sector needs a voice.”
Housing was the main issue which dominated the debate, with David Cameron’s plans to expand buy-to-let, rising property and rent prices, the bedroom tax and absent property owners all discussed.
Rock Feilding-Mellon, speaking for Ms Borwick who had lost her voice, said the Tories took the issue of mixed communities seriously, saying he did not want the borough to be home to the bottom 25% and the very rich, but have intermediate housing for those in the middle.
Dr Abouharb blamed much of the crisis on Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy and Mr McGhee spoke of Lib Dem plans to build more homes.
Other candidates questioned the desire to jump on the property ladder and become “mortgage slaves”, pointing out cities in Europe when many people happily lived their lives in rented accommodation.
Other discussions included the commitment to the voluntary sector and NHS. Afterwards, Ms Spence said: “It was good in the sense that the issues were discussed, particularly housing, were quite pertinent given the issues that are happening and how people feel about housing. It’s very important t the voluntary sector.
“We want the candidates to understand the importance and value of the community sector.
“We want to ensure that they maintain commitment and funding and general support for the voluntary and community sector.”