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Summary

  1. Updates from Wednesday 15 April 2015
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Thursday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good evening

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

That's all folks. The debate has ended to whoops and applause. Thanks for joining us.

BBC Local Live will be back from 08:00 on Thursday with news, sport, travel and weather updates from across Birmingham and the Black Country.

'Can't move a mansion'

Steve Haynes, Lib Dem, says: "You can't move a mansion. That's how you do it, by taxing wealth."

'French flee for London'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

"The people of Birmingham have a fantastic entrepreneurial spirit," says Tory Rachel Maclean.

She says the lessons have been learnt from the French economy, where people are "fleeing the country for London".

The panel
BBC

'Food on the table'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Anna Masters, from the Greens, says she would disagree people are after increasing wealth - rather enough food to eat and enough money to pay for a small holiday.

Question from the audience

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

How are we going to increase wealth by targeting the rich with taxes such as the mansion tax?, asks a member of the audience.

Tory and Labour split on NHS

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Conservative Rachel Maclean says the growing economy will provide the funding needed to support the NHS.

Her Labour opposite number Richard Burden says cuts to social care "have been massive" and A&E targets were being missed as a result.

'Always so hard'

Annette Taylor

writes on Twitter: #wmdebate my son has SEN and weve had to jump through more funding hoops to continue his support at BVC this has been very stressful for him.

"#wmdebate 2 why is it always made so hard for these young people going over stuff of their needs just to make a better future for themselves"

Via Twitter

Neil Anderson

tweets: good to hear @bbcwm #wmdebate and hear local candidates….however massively distracting that one of their noses is whistling down the mics

Question from the audience

Brian Allbutt, from the West Midlands Pensioners' Convention, has asked the candidates how they would tackle pressure on social care.

Background to the debate

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

In March BBC News reported on the

cuts in adult education in England, about which the candidates have been speaking.

Adult students
BBC

The Association of Colleges said 190,000 adult education places would go next year, as funding was cut by 24%.

No problem on faith schools

A texter has asked where the candidates stand on faith schools.

Keith Rowe, for UKIP, Steve Haynes for the Lib Dems and Anna Masters for the Greens say they have no fundamental issue with them.

'Quite a boring question'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Rachel Maclean, for the Conservatives, says a question about faith schools is "quite a boring question" because the parties broadly agree.

'I always gave people training'

Rachel Maclean says the state and the colleges are part of the solution. In the business I ran we would always give people training, The Conservative says, but is questioned from someone in the audience about whether that's in Birmingham or Mumbai.

'Biggest screw-up'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Steve Haynes, for the Liberal Democrats, says one of this government's "biggest screw-ups" was cutting the budgets for adult education.

He said it was "imperative to make funding available for people out of work to reskill".

Steve Haynes
BBC

Greens: Scrap tuition fees

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Anna Masters, for the Greens, is answering a question on how to protect adult education, and ensure everyone gets the skills they need.

She says her party would scrap tuition fees for students.

The debate panel
BBC

Cuts to education

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Mia Spence asks the panel what they are going to do to ensure everyone has access to education. Cuts to adult education is what concerns her.

Labour 'talking down our area'

Rachel Maclean, for the Tories, says she thinks Richard is partially right, if if she was the MP she would try to go much further.

You have to be an ambassador for the area and shout about the area to businesses she says. "Frankly a lot of what I see from Labour is talking down our area and city," she tells the audience.

The area
BBC

College 'does matter'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Richard Burden, for Labour, has rebutted criticism WM received via text from Rob, whom Adrian Goldberg suspects is a former Longbridge worker, who said he lost his job under Labour.

Mr Burden said Rob was wrong to suggest the college did not count, when it came to the jobs being created on the site of the former MG Rover plant, as the college represented the new skills needed by future generations.

Northfield history

Kath Stanczyszyn

Political reporter, BBC WM

Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Northfield only became part of Birmingham in 1919 - it had been rapidly expanded just before World War One.

The area was the centre of the world's nail-making industry in the 19th Century - not that glamorous maybe, but pretty useful.

Sign outside the Longbridge works in Birmingham
Getty Images

Of course Northfield's more famous for its car making in the 20th Century, with the Longbridge plant at one point one of the biggest manufacturing sites in the world before MG Rover's collapse.

In defence of government

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Rachel Maclean, the Conservatives' candidate, hits back on the government's record, saying the debt and deficit is falling as a share of gross domestic product (GDP).

Tackling tax avoidance?

Catt Smith

tweets: @bbcwm What will be done to tackle massive corporate tax avoidance? Austerity hits the poorest hardest while the rich get richer! #wmdebate

Accumulated debt 'is the problem'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

One of the biggest problems our grandchildren will face is our national accumulated debt, which Keith Rowe for UKIP claims has doubled in five years.

Via Twitter

Kamel Hawwash

tweets: @bbcwm At #wmdebate I asked whether zero hour contracts are good for the economy & society.Only the Conservative candidate thought they were

Recovery 'must be shared'

Richard Burden, running for Labour, says the recovery needs to be shared and not just seen by "those at the top".

Green Anna Masters tells Adrian Goldberg "We know the austerity experiment hasn't worked.

"It's left the vast majority of people worse off. The income of Northfield's people... 53% of workers are earning less than living wage, with women disproportionately affected."

Debate moves on

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

The debate is now moving on to tackle the subject of cuts.

Rail investment thanks to 'strong economy'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Rachel Maclean, for the Tories, says she would like to see both the restoration of train lines and the extension of the Midland Metro. She says this government has invested in rail because the economy "was strong".

'Want to renationalise the railways'

Anna Masters, for the Green Party, says she is going to support any initiative to increase public transit.

Adrian Goldberg addressing audience
BBC

We want to renationalise the railways, which would create loads of jobs and put an immediate 10% cut on rail fares, she says.

Labour's Richard Burden says general improvements are needed. Improvements to Longbridge station are part of what he's achieved and the problem with transport planning is it's very centralised.

UKIP: 'Scrap HS2'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

UKIP's Keith Rowe says money could be found to reopen train lines by abandoning the HS2 high-speed line, as he aims criticism at Birmingham City Council's transport policy.

'Bring back train line'

Tim Weller, from Halesowen, asked about reinstating the old passenger rail line through Kings Heath on to Moor Street.

For the past 50 years we've had nothing while £100m a mile is spent on the Midland Metro extension, he says.

'No hope for young people'

Prof Kamel Hawwash, a lecturer in civil engineering at the University of Birmingham, says he asked the first question because his son was on such a contract.

He says he believes they do not give young people the hope they need.

UKIP criticises Labour legacy

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Keith Rowe, for UKIP, says Labour has "left the ordinary people behind" while Richard Burden was MP, which was why he claimed the living wage was paid to fewer people in the constituency.

Anna Masters, for the Greens, tells the debate zero-hours contracts are not good for anybody, unless they've chosen them to fit in with their lifestyle.

The public have been abandoned by the three main parties, she says.

'Living wage blackspot'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Labour's Richard Burden says Northfield is a living wage "blackspot" and job insecurity is rife, as he suggests the Conservatives are "out of touch".

'Examples of abuse'

Steve Haynes, Lib Dem, says there'll always be examples where zero-hours contracts have been abused and people are prevented from taking up more work. However, that doesn't mean we need to get rid of them outright, he adds.

The audience
BBC

Tory view on zero-hours contracts

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Rachel Maclean says the Tories are taking action on zero-hours contracts while Labour did nothing while they were in government.

Zero-hours contracts

First question from the audience: Are zero-hour contracts good for the economy and society?

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Liberal Democrat candidate Steve Haynes says he wants to invest in education to protect the future.

Keith Rowe says UKIP wants to leave Europe and free up huge sums to spend on the NHS.

Anna Masters, from the Greens, says she wants a fairer society not dictated by profit.

Mini manifestos

The candidates are starting with 30-second mini manifestos.

Labour's Richard Burden said he would cut the Bedroom Tax which he says affects 1,500 people in Northfield.

The Conservatives' Rachel Maclean says her party wants to grow the economy to help business.

Lack of skills

Kath Stanczyszyn

Political reporter, BBC WM

And unemployment has been going down too - between November and January the numbers out of work fell by 5,000 to 182,000 - or 6.5% of the working population.

And we know we have a real issue with lack of skills. A study in January found Birmingham has the highest percentage of people without any formal qualifications compared to any other large city in the UK.

Why we're debating the economy

Kath Stanczyszyn

Politcal reporter, BBC WM

The economy is without a doubt one of the most important topics of the election with all parties anxious to show they would be a safe pair of hands when it comes to managing the purse strings.

Latest figures from the West Midlands Economic Forum show that exports have been steadily growing from our region over the last few years - reaching £28.5bn last year - a growth rate of more than 10%.

Live behind the scenes

BBC Brum Votes

tweets: LIVE on #Periscope: We are now LIVE behind the scenes at @bbcwm's election debate. Watch and let us know your thoug…
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