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  1. Updates on Tuesday, 30 May 2017
  2. MP hopefuls for Milton Keynes South debate issues ahead of the general election
  3. The candidates taking part are:
  4. Graham Findlay (Green)
  5. Andrew Geary - council leader representing Iain Stewart (Conservative)
  6. Tahir Maher (Lib Dem)
  7. Hannah O'Neill (Labour)
  8. UKIP candidate unable to make it due to work commitments

Live Reporting

By Sarah Jenkins and Stuart Bailey

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our election debate from Milton Keynes South

That wraps up our election debate with four of the five candidates (or their representatives) standing for election in the constituency on Thursday, 8 June.

Our next debate from Beds, Herts and Bucks will be for the seat of Bedford on Thursday, 1 June and our hosts are Bedford Blues Rugby Club.

Our final debate focuses on the Watford constituency, and it comes from the town's Palace Theatre on Tuesday, 6 June.

Ballot boxes
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What would you do for Milton Keynes as an MP if your party didn't gain a majority?

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The final question to the panel was asked by audience member Susan.

She wanted to know what would be the most significant thing each candidate would do for the people of Milton Keynes if they were elected as MP, but their party didn't gain a majority in the House of Commons to be in government or coalition.

Hannah O'Neill (Labour) said: "For me it would be supporting our schools and getting the best education for our young people."

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "Make sure we have our NHS protected in Milton Keynes, looking after schools and giving a voice back to the people."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "Make sure we get the best Brexit deal that we can as it's something that impacts us all."

Andrew Geary (representing the Conservative candidate Iain Stewart) said: "Iain's view has always been to make sure that the life chances and the ability for everyone in this city to be the absolute best that they can be is given top priority."

Why should young people vote for you?

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The panel were then asked why young voters in Milton Keynes South should place their trust in them at this election?

Hannah O'Neill (Labour) said: "They should trust me because I understand young people, I am relatively young.

"It's about how we make sure that we include them and make them feel a part of our society and part of our community.

"We need to do the absolute best for them."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "Because I'm honest and I'm trustworthy.

"I care about the youth. It's one of the main things I care about.

"I have young children, I know how difficult it is for them going forwards.

"What they will inherit from Brexit is what worries me."

Andrew Geary (representing the Conservative candidate Iain Stewart) said: "One of the reasons I came into politics in the first place was to try and create a better place for my children to live.

"Iain may not have children of his own, but I know he cares about my children and other people's children.

"I believe Iain wants to represent every single person in his constituency and that includes young people as well."

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "I'm 23, so I'm probably the youngest candidate here. I was also the youth MP for Milton Keynes.

"I know what it's like to be a young person and be forgotten about.

"I think it comes down to supporting young people, giving them a voice again and making sure their opinions are heard."

What do the panel think about corporation tax?

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The panel were then asked about their policy on corporation tax.

Hannah O'Neill (Labour) said: "The UK corporation tax is one of the lowest in the G20.

"It's been reduced over the years under the Convervative goverment. We are now suggesting it would go back to what it was.

"It would still be one of the lowest, so the idea that businessses would up and leave is nonsense as they have nowhere else to go.

"In terms of small business, we've been really clear we will reintroduce a lower level of corporation tax for small businesses.

"We are looking after small businesses and making sure they have the ability to grow."

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "I studied business and economics for five years.

"It comes down to making sure businesses are paying their tax.

"We see large corporations not paying tax, then we see people vindicated when they're not paying tax.

"It's about making it fair. I don't see businesses contributing fairly at the moment."

The panel

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "There is evidence to suggest that if you lower tax, you get more money from it as people do less to avoid it.

"When we were in coalition we ensured that rules were tightened to get billions of pounds back, and that's what we need to do now.

"The other thing we would do with corporation tax is reverse the Conservative corporation tax reduction, which would go in to schools and education."

Andrew Geary (Conservative) said: "The left wing always want to attack those who create wealth, prosperity and jobs.

"Let me give you an example which we can understand. In 2010, the Liberal Democrats decided one of the ways they would increase funding in Milton Keynes was to raise the parking charges.

"They stuck charges up considerably, and they delivered less money.

"In 2011 when the Convervatives came up, they reduced the parking charges from £2.00 to 50p and increased revenue.

"What I'm trying to do is outline the point that it isn't necessarily hiking charges that increases revenue."

What about privatisation of the NHS?

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

A member of the audience has asked the candidates for their thoughts on the privatisation of the NHS.

Andrew Geary (Conservative) said: "Public services belong with the politicians and the goverment of the day.

"The NHS is one of our most treasured possessions.

"What it doesn't need is to be continually kicked around like a political football and each and every person trying to use it simply for political point-scoring.

"It doesn't do the service any good and it certainly doesn't boost morale within it."

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "Two years ago I went in for an operation which couldn't be done by the NHS, so they had to hire in a private surgeon to do the operation, but it was funded by the NHS.

"For me there's a situation where you can have both.

"The private sector does need to come in for highly specialised treatments, but the NHS can still pay for them if you can't afford it."

Milton Keynes South debate

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "Predominately it has to be a public service.

"Occasionally you do need external help which is very unique so that's OK.

"But we have to have a public service which is free at the point of use.

"It's increasingly getting to the point where that isn't the case, just look at the Conservative's 'dementia tax'.

Hannah O'Neill (Labour) said: "I think it needs to remain public.

"We have to ask why surgeons involved in these specialist operations opt not to work in the NHS.

"It is our national treasure and it should be offering the best care.

"We need to invest in it highly and we need to work with the staff. They need to be the leaders and tell us what the NHS needs."

Shaking up the system

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

The panel was asked if any changes should be made to the electoral system and the way we vote.

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "First of all you need votes for 16 year olds. Young people need to be able to have a say on their future.

"There needs to be a core root change in our voting system, but we also need politicians that actually represent people."

Andrew Geary (Conservative) said: "I don’t think any electoral system is without its flaws. There’s no perfect system.

"Personally I’d adopt the Australian model and make voting compulsory with a box at the bottom saying ‘none of the above’".

Hannah O’Neill (Labour) said: "Being a woman in politics I can accept there are major issues with people who represent us.

"Parliamentary politicians are generally white, middle class men and we have to change the way our system attracts people."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "People vote in a tribal manner. The last Tory government won the election with 37% of the vote.

"We need PR [proportional representation] so that everybody’s vote counts and that will give us better representation."

For an explanation of the issues surrounding PR and its different forms, read this BBC feature.

Coping with council cuts

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

The candidates were asked what the government should do to help Milton Keynes Council fund local services.

Graham Findlay (Green) said: “I thoroughly believe in localism and bringing back more power to local government.

"There’s £20m that’s being withheld from Milton Keynes year-on-year.

"I can remember a few years ago when we had the Lib Dems in charge of our local council, it seemed they were getting a lot more done and better supporting local people."

Andrew Geary (Conservative) said: “This all comes down to careful management and careful balancing of the economy.

"I think, frankly this carefully-costed Labour manifesto has been done at the Diane Abbott school of accountancy.

"The economy is stronger under the Conservatives."

Hannah O’Neill (Labour) said: "Local authorities and services cannot continue under austerity.

"There is almost nothing left as it is and if it continues the way it is, we will not have services and people will be suffering more and more.

"We will balance the books within five years."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "For the size of a city like Milton Keynes, the funding that’s been cut is too much.

"Local authorities need more funding and more powers.

"The only time the Tories have released any responsibilities to local authorities is when they couldn’t afford it… they’ve given it to local authorities and then blamed them for not being able to afford it while they’ve been cutting costs."

Is NHS funding used in the right way?

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The next question for the panel is from Samantha in the audience. She's asked what each of them would do regarding funding for the NHS.

Samantha said money had been spent on upgrading the entrance of Milton Keynes Hospital, but while visiting the hospital with her mother, she struggled to find a wheelchair. She raised the concern that money is not being spent in the right places within the NHS.

Andrew Geary (Conservative) said: "You have to ask the management of the hospitals about the allocation of funding.

"Milton Keynes Hospital hasn't just been given a cosmetic overhaul. It's been made into a 21st Century hospital.

"It had lagged behind and had not developed at the same rate as the city.

"Our hospital has kept up a better pace over the last seven years. We've got an extra 77 doctors and 106 new nurses since 2010 in Milton Keynes [Hospital].

"It's not so much about the resourcing - it's about the management of those resources. That's not a central issue, that's a local one."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "The chair of the British Medical Association said the Conservative Party is not spending enough.

"The Royal College of Nursing said we are short by 40,000 nurses [nationally].

"We want to put money in to get at least 20,000 nurses qualified by the end of next parliament.

"We've got 59,000 nurses and doctors who are from Europe. We need to get an agreement so they feel secure and they stay here."


Hannah O’Neill (Labour) said: "Labour is determined to see the NHS work. We are the party of the NHS and we've always stood by it.

"We've seen the defecit at Milton Keynes Hospital go from £1.2m to £32m in the last seven years under the Conservative government.

"If I am elected as MP I would be fighting for both Bedford and Milton Keynes Hospitals to keep their services open.

"Milton Keynes is a growing city. It needs a fantastic maternity service and a fanstastic A&E."

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "If we look at the cyber attack, that isn't something that just happens. It's because we didn't update our security systems.

"You can develop the NHS and make it efficient without making cuts.

"People pay taxes, you want to have an NHS system that works for you and is there for you, at the moment we don't get that.

"Waiting times for GPs across the NHS has increased since 2010 nationally.

"We can make the NHS more efficient. but it doesn't have to mean cutting our basic services and cutting the protection of people."

A Brexit deal for Milton Keynes

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

The candidates were asked about their views on Brexit and whether they've spoken to big companies in Milton Keynes to find out how they feel about the UK leaving the EU.

Audience at election debate in Milton Keynes.

Andrew Geary (representing the Conservative candidate) said: "We are in touch with all the major companies in Milton Keynes and it’s fair to say that different big companies have different views.

"The fact is this - whatever the flaws in the referendum campaign, the country has voted to leave the EU and it’s critical we do the best job we can of leaving the European Union."

Hannah O’Neill (Labour) said: "I haven’t personally spoken to these companies but the Milton Keynes economy is heavily reliant on European business so it’s absolutely crucial we get a good deal.

"That’s not about having no deal and walking away. We have to get the best deal to protect our rights, our workers and our communities."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "If we come out with no deal we go to World Trade Organisation tariffs, for example 10% on the price of cars we import or export.

"Don’t be under any illusions that these deals are going to be done within two years. They aren’t. We need to stay in the single market."

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "Our view on Brexit is that in 2019, when that deal is on the table, that’s when we have our second referendum and we vote on it.

"The aim is to try and take the spin away from the actual deal, because there was so much lying on both sides [during the referendum campaign] that by the end of it nobody knew what they were voting for."

What about the 'triple lock' and free bus pass?

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The next question was asked by a member of the audience - John from the Milton Keynes Pensioners Association.

He asked the candidates what their stance is on the winter fuel allowance, free bus pass and the triple lock on pensions.

The triple-lock sees the state pension rise in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5% - whichever is highest.

Here's what the candidates/representatives had to say..

Tahir Maher (Lib Dem)

Mr Maher said about the triple lock: "We want to carry on with the triple lock.

"The Labour Party didn't do a great deal for pensioners, we brought the triple lock in.

"It's something we believe in. We had to fight the Tories very hard for it."

On the proposal by the Conservatives to means-test the winter fuel allowance, Mr Taher said: "It's petty.

"Some of the horror stories you hear about the people who are choosing whether to stay warm or eat - this is not the kind of society we want to live in.

"It's pensioners' right to get this allowance. I feel the same about the bus pass."

Hannah O'Neill (Labour)

Ms O'Neill said: "Milton Keynes has a growing older population.

"I'm really concerned about the future of older people if the Conservaitves win this election.

"The Conservatives have attacked the older population in their manifesto.

"Labour have been clear, we will keep the winter fuel allowance, free buss pass and the triple lock on pensions.

"We certainly won't be asking people to pay for their care if their home is worth more than £100,000.

"Labour is committed to looking after pensioners and older people."

Milton Keynes South candidates or representatives of candidates

Andrew Geary (representing the Conservative candidate):

On the triple lock: "The fact is very few pensioners will be worse off under a double lock.

"The audience do not seem to be convinced, but as long as the economy continues to grow at the rate it is, pensioners will not be worse off under the double lock."

Mr Geary added all parties were committed to offering the free bus pass to those aged 60 or over.

"The winter fuel allowance is proposed to be means-tested. I defend that and think it's absolutely right.

"For example, Lord Alan Sugar, why should he receive £200 from the government when there are other people who need it.

"I don't believe it costs more to means-test it."

Graham Findlay: Green Party

Mr Findlay said about the triple lock: "It's like animal farm, you're asked to work your whole life and work really hard for your community and at the end you're just forgotten about and ignored.

"For us it's simple, make sure there's that triple lock, make sure you have a bus pass.

"I do agree there needs to be a consultation into means-testing the winter fuel allowance as people can claim it who do not need it.

"But if the consultation comes back and it's more expensive to implement it, then it shouldn't be done."

Tackling the housing crisis

Stuart Bailey

BBC News

The first question from the audience is why Milton Keynes has such a pronounced problem with homelessness and what they would do about it?

Audience at election debate in Milton Keynes.

Graham Findlay (Green) said: "There needs to be more affordable housing.

"It doesn't just come down to whether you can get a mortgage on a cheap house. It's about - if you're looking to rent - that renting is affordable.

"We need to build more affordable housing that young people can get."

Hannah O’Neill (Labour) said: "The crisis is atrocious and we're seeing it every day on our streets with the tents in the city centre and more than 800 families in temporary accommodation.

"Labour would build a million new homes, 50% of which would be social rented.

"We will build 4,000 properties for people who are street homeless and caps on rent."

Andrew Geary (Conservative) said: "We are not building homes fast enough.

"MK has a target of 1,750 dwellings per year, but housing completions have dropped in the past two years.

"It’s because the house builders, the major land owners in Milton Keynes are controlled by two or three large-scale house builders who build at the rate they want to maximise their profits."

Tahir Maher (Liberal Democrat) said: "What the Liberal Democrats are looking to do is build 300,000 new homes [nationally].

"The way we're going to do that is create a new bank to enable councils and housing associations to build houses, effectively on brownfield sites, protecting greenfield sites.

"We need these houses and we need to make sure that people have access to them."

Results in 2015

The scores-on-the-doors in 2015 were:

  • Iain Stewart (Con) 27,601 (+5.2% on 2010)
  • Andrew Pakes (Lab) 18,929 (-0.1%)
  • Vince Peddle (UKIP) 7,803 (+9.5%)
  • Lisa Smith (Lib Dem) 2,309 (-13.8%)
  • Samantha Pancheri (Green) 1,936 (+1.9%)
  • Stephen Fulton (ind) 255 (+0.4%)
  • Matthew Gibson (Keep It Real) 116 (+0.2%)

Read more about the Milton Keynes South constituency on the BBC's election pages.

General election: Milton Keynes South decides

Andy Holmes

BBC Three Counties Radio political reporter

Milton Keynes South is one of our newer constituencies, having been formed after rapid expansion in the town led to a need for boundary changes in 2010.

Labour had held the previous MK South West seat for 13 years under Phyllis Starkey, but Tory Iain Stewart won in 2010 and then increased his majority in 2015

He currently has the smallest majority (8,672) out of the seven seats in Buckinghamshire, and it's number 81 on Labour’s list of targets, although they would need a swing of more than 7% to gain control.

The Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens also have candidates standing.

UKIP candidate unable to attend due to work commitments

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

The UKIP candidate for Milton Keynes South, Vince Peddle, is unable to attend the debate this evening.

He sent us the following statement.

"Unfortunately I am not able to attend the hustings meeting this evening.

"I have work commitments which prevent me from being there.

"The general election has been called as a snap election, which has left many of us with no chance of reorganising our schedules.

"The election is a party political election called only for the benefit of the Conservative Party, and not for the good of the country.

"Rest assured, UKIP remain a force to be reckoned with and we will make sure the government deliver on Brexit."

Vince Peddle
Vince Peddle/Facebook

General election: Meet the Milton Keynes South candidates

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

These are the candidates we’ll be hearing from in our debate at Stadium MK this evening:

Graham Findlay: Green Party He stood for the Greens., when he was 18 years old, in the 2012 local elections and has lived in Newport Pagnell for most of his life. He has been involved in youth-led projects and has worked with several charities to help put young people's issues & campaigns onto the national, regional and local agenda.

Graham Findlay

Andrew Geary - council leader representing Iain Stewart: ConservativeIain Stewart is standing having won the seat in 2010 and held onto it in 2015. He’s unable to attend our hustings, so in his place is Andrew Geary who is the newly-appointed Conservative leader at Milton Keynes Council. Mr Geary has been a councillor since 2002 and is also a former leader of the local authority.

Andrew Geary

Tahir Maher (Lib Dem)Works for Transport for London as a management accountant and has been in the Lib Dems for 12 years. He was a town councillor for eight years and has previously worked as a head of finance for a large medical charity. In his spare time he spends it with family and friends and on long trips into London he likes to read novels.

Tahir Maher

Hannah O'Neill (Labour)Was appointed as deputy leader of Milton Keynes Council in 2014 having been a councillor for six years before that. She has a one-year-old daughter and says she is a lapsed cyclist.

Hannah O'Neill

As we mentioned previously, the UKIP candidate Vince Peddle is unable to attend due to work commitments. He has sent us a statement, which we will post shortly.

General election: The Milton Keynes South debate

Sarah Jenkins

BBC Local Live

This evening we're meeting the people (or their representatives) who want to become the MP for Milton Keynes South at the general election on 8 June.

Iain Stewart, who held his seat in the 2015 election, is unable to attend so in his place is Andrew Geary, who is the newly-appointed Conservative leader at Milton Keynes Council.

The UKIP candidate Vince Peddle is out of the country so will not be at the debate. He has sent a statement which we will provide for you shortly.

They’ll be debating key issues including immigration and housing.

Stadium MK
Getty Images

You can listen to the debate, live from Stadium MK, on BBC Three Counties Radio between 17:00 and 19:00.

We’ll also be bringing you the main points here.