A Green Party candidate has waded into a row over a Labour MP’s refusal to debate with a Ukip politician from out of the area – saying the Labour Party itself fielded a candidate from Teesside at an earlier event.
Sunderland Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Julie Elliot declined to debate with Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott in an event at Sunderland University on Monday.
Mr Arnott had attended in place of his party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency Bryan Foster, whose wife Dorothy’s chronic illness had taken a turn for the worse.
Mrs Elliot’s reasons were that Mr Arnott is a candidate for Easington and not Sunderland Central.
Now Green Party candidate Rachel Featherstone has hit out at her decision because she was substituted with a candidate from Teesside at an event held at St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke, in March.
Ms Featherstone said Mrs Elliott had no objections in the past, when in the second debate, a local election candidate stood in for LibDem candidate Adrian Page.
“I was happy to debate with the Ukip representative,” Ms Featherstone said. “I believe that in the interests of democracy, all the parties should have been represented.
“I’m concerned that this may affect the willingness of the university to host this kind of event in the future.”
She added: “The organisers are to be commended for the efforts they made to ensure this was a lively and informative debate.”
A Labour Party spokesman said the debate at St Aidan’s was a regional event, with parliamentary candidates from outside Sunderland taking part, while the Age UK debate was a whole of Sunderland city debate not a Sunderland Central hustings.
“It’s odd to see the Green Party cosying up to Ukip,” he said.
“But our position remains the same our candidate debates with other Sunderland Central parliamentary candidates in hustings for Sunderland Central constituency.”
Also standing in the Sunderland Central constituency is Jeffrey Guy Townsend (Conservative) and Jospeh Young (Independent).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Apr 2015
> Yet another victim. Somewhere there must be an official who will recall the name Trevor Drakard and think: “It was me that stopped his benefits…”
I wonder how they feel about that ?
Devastated that his benefits had been stopped, a man with epilepsy hanged himself.
Trevor Drakard had been deemed fit for employment, after a back-to-work assessment.
The 50-year-old, who never married and had few friends, took his own life at his home in Sunderland.
An inquest into his death heard Mr Drakard had been diagnosed with epilepsy from the age of six and was receiving Incapacity Benefit.
Coroner’s officer Neville Dixon told a hearing in Sunderland:
“In the past few months he had been deemed fit to work and his benefits were stopped.
“He had been in the process of appealing with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
“He had been feeling very down in recent weeks, due to the stress of losing his benefits.”
A “lonely person”, Mr Drakard had also lost two close friends in the last three years.
He would meet his parents for dinner three times a week, the hearing was told.
They last saw him on July 18, after dropping him off at his home in General Graham Street.
When they were unable to get in touch with him about signing papers relating to his benefits, they called round to the house and found Mr Drakard’s body in his bedroom.
Senior coroner Derek Winter said Mr Drakard would have been unconscious “in a small number of seconds” and died shortly after.
Tests showed he had still been taking his epilepsy medication.
Mr Winter said he was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr Drakard had been responsible for his own death.
Speaking after the hearing, Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliot said:
“This case is tragic and need not have happened. My thoughts are with Mr Drakards’ family and friends.
“Sadly, the removal of benefits to genuinely sick people is becoming all too common, having a devastating impact on people’s lives and in this case a tragic outcome.
“The system is not fit for purpose – the Government needs to act now to stop anymore tragedies occurring and causing unnecessary hardship to people.”
> Aye, aye…must be a General election coming soon ? Ms Elliott, like her fellow Sunderland MPs, have been somewhat less than vocal about benefit cuts over the course of this parliament.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 Sept 2014