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Summary

  1. BBC Radio Norfolk's general election debate on Great Yarmouth
  2. Issues facing voters in Great Yarmouth
  3. The parties' perspective on the NHS
  4. Finance and Brexit... 'good deal' needed for Britain

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Harry Webb: Green Party candidate for Great Yarmouth

We've heard from the Conservative, Labour and UKIP candidates but now it's the turn of the Green Party.

Their candidate is Harry Webb, who stood in the last general election, taking just under 1,000 votes.

Mr Webb, who became a parish councillor when a teenager, has given an interview to our reporter Andrew Turner, in which he spoke of his involvement in politics, and he's hopes for the future of Britain.

"My campaign in Great Yarmouth is about engaging with young people and getting more young people involved in politics and trying really to say to people 'this is your future'. A big thing that we've been doing on social media as a national party as well is actually saying to people 'get out and register to vote because this is your chance'.

"Secondly, we've been looking at the local situation and saying to people this is your chance to elect someone who's going to represent you as best as possible for the next five years. Something we've lacked in Great Yarmouth is a proper constituency MP and that's exactly what I'm about as a local person.

"People are very disenfranchised, they've had enough of politics, they find it hard to believe there's actually another election again. The percentage turnout, as everyone knows, seems to be lower and lower every time you look at it. People are fed up and this is their chance to actually vote and make a difference."

How did he Harry Webb get interested in politics and why does he think he would be a good person to represent the community of Great Yarmouth?

"I noticed on a local level and then on a national level, and saw 'the old people's brigade' in regards to the council being the same people, the same faces that have been there year after year after year and I thought we need young people to decide our fate in the future, and I thought the only way I'm going to do that is to get involved in it."

And if Mr Webb is elected, what would he do as MP for Great Yarmouth?

"The first thing I'd be working towards quite strongly is lowering the voting age to 16 and seeing that every young person had a proper voice. The other thing I'd be looking to work at is ensuring that Great Yarmouth has a proper voice, a proper constituency MP who's seen in the community."

James Joyce: Liberal Democrat candidate for Great Yarmouth

The candidates for the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP have had their say, now it's the turn of the Liberal Democrats.

Their candidate, James Joyce, was a county councillor until he stood down at the most recent election.

In an interview with our reporter, Paul Moseley, Mr Joyce said it was "people first" for him.

"I do believe in Europe, I've believed in Europe for all of my life and I haven't changed anything at any time on that belief. I believe we had a democratic decision last year which was actually coming out of Europe, but I believe that when the terms are given, when we've got them, then actually that should be put to the public again," he said.

He said Great Yarmouth is a "wonderful town" in a "wonderful area" but added: "It's not actually the most economically vibrant part of the country at the moment... If you look around there's increased use of foodbanks, increased homelessness... It's got lots of problems at the moment and what it really needs is someone to champion the people there.

Great Yarmouth was one of the most pro-Brexit places in the country, with more than 70% voting to leave the EU.

"However, it is also one of the areas which gets a lot of support from the EU and I want to make sure that when we come out of Europe that support is coming from central government," he said.

In the 2015 general election, the Lib Dems secured just over 1,000 votes.

"I believe we'll do a lot better and that's what it's about - We're really about people, about children... if you look at education, the current government is cutting the schools' budget," he said.

"They say they're maintaining it, but in real times it's coming down - I'm a governor at schools, I look at all the problems we have, look at the problems we have in the NHS at the moment, they're basically trying to cut everything - look at the numbers of police staff which have come down.

"I believe we need to invest, we need to invest in services like the NHS, we need to invest in services like the police, we need to invest in education and all of these are part of Lib Dem policy."

Finance and Brexit... the closing topics of the debate

The final subject that was discussed in the BBC Radio Norfolk election debate was finance and Brexit.

Brandon Lewis (Conservative): "We can't under-estimate how important it is to have an economy that's growing, it's one of the reasons why we're able to invest in things like the NHS.... we need to see more businesses coming to this country, those we have in this country growing to employ more people. That's why having an attractive tax rate is so important, it attracts businesses, allows them to grow and employ people who pay taxes as well as the company - that allows our economy to grow as well, and have the money we need to support our frontline servics.

"I'm confident Theresa May will be the right person to get us a good deal with Europe, it's in our interest and also in our partners' interest in Europe to get a good deal - we trade together on a whole range of issues, through commerce, security and international work, so it's important for everybody and for us to see a strong Europe. There's a vested interest for us all to see a good deal and that we will get a good deal."

The flags of the European Union
BBC

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP): "Of course we'll get a good deal because they sell us twice as much as we sell them, so who wouldn't do a deal, it's pretty simple.

"The other thing, they treated Greece abysmally, they're a nasty bunch of people when they come to negotiating. They brought Greece to its knees, they brought a democratically-elected government on to its knees at night and said 'we will close the banks if you don't sign away all rights'.

"We could walk away right now, 190 countries trade with the European Union who are not in the EU, and they trade perfectly fine under World Trade Organisation rules."

EU flag flying in front of Houses of Parliament
PA

Mike Smith-Clare (Labour): "Brexit has taken place, the people have spoken... we've had that consensus opinion that we will be leaving the European Union and I take that as being final.

"What we know we need is strong negotiation... with any separation there needs to be an agreement that meets the needs of us first, but there will also be a payback. There's no evident time frame in place at the moemnt... but there needs to be a strong agreement that we have the best possible solution in leaving without getting to a stage that we're coerced into something.

"We are a party for the many, not the few. It we look at increasing corporation tax up to where we are with the European rate of corporation tax, that money taken from that and reinvested back into our community will see an increase in opportunity in frontline services, an increase in opportunity for education to grow... it's not borrowing money but taking from the few and giving to the many... offering an equal solution for those who've got away for so long in not paying their fair due to ensure our communities grow stronger."

The parties' perspective on the NHS

Next, the Radio Norfolk Great Yarmouth election debate moved on to the National Health Service.

Each party appears to be saying they are the one which cares about the NHS, so how will the public decide who to vote for.

Mike Smith-Clare (Labour): "It's investing in the frontline service. We know the work the NHS does, and there's not a candidate on this campaign who wouldn't appreciate the work of the NHS. My fear is in to the future we get to a stage where we lose the NHS as we know it, and by that I don't mean just the lack of service, but the thought of people in two or three years time having to pay for treatment that they might not be able to afford. The privatisation of the NHS, the jewel in the crown that was established by the Labour government, is something that's not just going to impact on certain lives - it will impact on entire communities."

Operating theatre, with medics in blue gowns
BBC

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP): "Why should a country of 65m people - we have 20,000 people wanting nursing places - why should we be taking the Philippines' nurses? This is not rocket science, we're not trying to have Einstein and nuclear physics here, we're trying to do nurses - we have this massive problem of unemployment in a place like Great Yarmouth, and then we have to import the Philippines' nurses. It's a nonsense, and this has been going on for years and years and years. It was a deliberate policy under Blair to import five to six million people... the Conservative party did nothing at all to reduce migration numbers."

An elderly person lying on a hospital bed, with a pink blanket covering their legs
BBC

Brandon Lewis (Conservative): "The reality is, there are 11,300 more doctors, more than 12,000 more nurses on our wards, since 2010. It's actually an independent survey report for the NHS itself that says - and I quote: 'Outcomes of care for most major conditions are dramatically better... than even 10 years ago'. What we have been able to do, because we've been able to develop a growing and stronger economy, is to invest more in the NHS. That's why we're able to back the NHS's own plan, by spending £8bn in real times over the next five years... we're investing in our NHS, we believe in our NHS and want to make sure it remains and will always be free."

Immigration: What's in the parties manifestos

The next top up for discussion on the BBC Radio Norfolk election focus on Great Yarmouth was immigration.

Presenter Nick Conrad was joined in the studio with the Labour and UKIP candidates, with the Conservative's Brandon Lewis joining in via his phone.

The three candidates were asked what their party was saying about immigration.

Mike Smith-Clare (Labour): "Like any manifesto, and that's across all manifestos, Labour is going for negotiation... the Labour party is moving forward to a position to identify where we need to be with immigration and migration. I'm saying that we need to consider what is right, when we get into power."

Mike Smith-Clare in radio studio, sitting alongside Catherine Blaiklock
BBC

Brandon Lewis (Conservative): "We need to reduce immigration and migration - that's one of the clear things that's come through, not just from our constituency in Great Yarmouth but generally across the country. We need to make sure, as we leave the European Union, we get that deal that allows us to have that control of our borders in a way we've not had with our European partners as we do with countries overseas - it allow us to readjust so we make sure we reduce it. But we've also got to make sure we're upskilling people locally... so they can take advantage of the jobs coming through, particularly the energy and offshore industries."

Brandon Lewis
BBC

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP): "UKIP is the only party that's saying we won't have any more immigration. We are a country of 65m people, we're the seventh largest economy in the world, and we can't train enough doctors and nurses - this is completely ridiculous. UKIP is saying we will have no tuition fees at all for skills which are needed, we should be able to provide engineers, IT, doctors, nurses, we should not be taking poor countries' doctors and nurses."

Catherine Blaiklock in radio studio, alongside Mike Smith-Clare, with presenter Nick Conrad
BBC

Great Yarmouth: MP candidates' priorities

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP): "It was UKIP that brought you the referendum, it was UKIP that started talking about local people being left behind by London's elites who hardly ever step outside the M25.

"These people don't talk our language and live in a different world from ordinary people. I want you to vote for me to give UKIP some loud voices in Westminster.

"Great Yarmouth voted 71% out. I want to make sure that three things happen: You never stop hearing from the MP for Great Yarmouth. We make sure that we do not pay £100bn ransom to the EU and we start to put the Great back into Great Yarmouth.

"Theresa May will win anyway, she does not need an extra Conservative seat in Great Yarmouth. Vote UKIP here and get a loud voice.

"People say to me all the time 'we are losing our country' - let's stop the rot now and take back control - it starts here and now in Great Yarmouth by voting UKIP."

James Joyce (Liberal Democrats): "People have asked me what I really stand for, for Great Yarmouth - and when it comes down to it, it's actually infrastructure and getting investment in to Great Yarmouth.

"We really do need the dualling of the A47, we really do need the third river crossing. We need it to expand our Great Yarmouth ports, to help them actually do what they're put there for.

"We need investment in education. The Lib Dems have put in their manifesto more into education - and for Norfolk that means an extra £45m. And for this area it means investment, it means protecting pupil premium, it means no longer having cuts. If we can't actually invest in our children's education then we're absolutely lost.

"The National health Service... We need to actually spend 1p extra to make sure it gets its extra £6.9bn - £1m of that will be ring-fenced for mental health. The mental health services in this part of the world are actually appalling and need to be made better."

Brandon Lewis (Conservative): "This election is about both local and national issues.

"Locally, I've worked to help secure more than £50m for our roads to improve Vauxhall Roundabout, Gapton Harfreys as well as seeing the new road open from Belton to Gorleston. And I want to see more - including that third river crossing and eventually that work to dual the Acle Straight that we all want to see, whilst seeing our schools continue to improve, protecting our hospitals, the great James Paget, seeing our schools get better and better, and build on that 50% fall in unemployment.

"This election is also about national issues and we're deciding who we want to make the big decisions for our country, who we want as prime minister, and who will be at that table negotiating as we leave the European Union - and we will be leaving the European Union. I think Theresa May's the best person to do that so I'm asking you to vote for me in order to help Theresa May have the mandate she needs to deliver for the UK."

Mike Smith-Clare (Labour): "Nationally we've got to look at the pledges the Labour party are making to people.

"There's going to be a £500bn investment in our economy. We're looking at protecting the NHS but also investing in that amazing service. We're looking at encouraging people to work by having a £10 minimum wage. Locally, it's building on those opportunities. I promote the dualling of the Acle Straight, plus it's an artery that serves the heart of Great Yarmouth.

"Alongside that there's the importance of bringing a third river crossing. Once we've got that infrastructure then we have the opportunity for our communities to be truly served.

"There's also that essential element of us building houses, affordable accommodation, rented accommodation within the community.

"Alongside that there has to be the opportunity for the NHS walk-in to be brought back.

"For me it's about providing opportunities for the many not for the few. There has to be regeneration, there needs to be an opportunity to have a tourism industry that is not just two or three months but twelve months."

Harry Webb (Green Party): "As someone who works in the health and social care sector I've experience on a daily basis the poor state of social provision in this country, and the strain our NHS is under. The falling standards and poor communications as a result of private companies cutting corners in order to win contracts and it's hitting those with ill health the hardest.

"The Green Party is committed to ending all privatisation of the NHS. We will start by repealing the 2012 Social Care Act.

"I'm standing up for young people at this election. I believe society should nurture future generations not punish them. That's why the Green Party will scrap university tuitiion fees and reinstate the education maintenance allowance to help those aged 16-18 through further education.

"A vote for the Green Party at this election is a vote for the common good, is a vote for a public transport system that works, a vote against a hard Brexit, a vote to tackle climate change and a vote to save our NHS

The big issues facing Great Yarmouth's electorate

Great Yarmouth is a constituency that has changed hands between the Conservatives and Labour several times, since the seat was created in 1950.

Five parties are chasing it in next week's general election. Candidates from three of those parties, Conservative, Labour and UKIP, have taken part in a BBC Radio Norfolk election debate.

The debate began with those three candidates explaining what they thought were the big issues facing the electorate in Great Yarmouth.

Mike Smith-Clare (Labour): "I think there are so many issues. For me personally it’s looking at investment in our town, there's been a woeful lack of investment over the past few years and that has then resulted in lives being absolutely destroyed.

"You've only got to walk around the town and see the impact that's been had through universal credit, people that are absolutely relying on foodbanks, on food kitchens, to survive. On top of that, we've seen a cut in our NHS servces, a lack of affordable housing, opportunities that don't exist through training any more due to cuts. There's cutback upon cutback upon cutback, and that is affecting every possible part of our community especially frontline services like the police, the fire brigade, and our jewel in the crown - the NHS."

Mike Smith-Clare
BBC

Brandon Lewis (Conservative) took part in the debate via telephone.

"I suspect this indicates how little time Mr Smith-Clare has spent looking around Great Yarmouth... we did have a huge lack of investment, he's right, but he's forgetting the time-frame - that was in 13 years of Labour when we had literally no infrastructure of investment whatsoever," he said.

"What we've had over the last few years is £100m of investment... the facts are we've secured more than £40m of investment for flood and sea defences, and there's more coming and that's important because it allows people's homes to be secure, and businesses.

"We secured £300m for the A47, which includes £50m for Harfreys Gapton and Vauxhall roundabout, and safety measures on the Acle Straight. What we've also seen is the new road that links up Belton with Gorleston which has given the opportunity for more housing to be built, more businesses coming, creating more jobs. In the town centres themselves, onviuosly Gorleston's got one of the lower rates of vacancy of shops in the country... Great Yarmouth I want to see more there, which is why I'm so pleased the town centre has been approved cross-party to have that big regeneration.

"It's still got fewer empty shops than the national average and we've seen shops coming in over the last couple of years. There is more to do, but it is actually coming forward."

Brandon Lewis on Great Yarmouth seafront
BBC

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP): "Nobody has mentioned the big one which is migration - 820,000 National Insurance numbers issued to foreign nationals. Labour doesn't want to stop migration because it's good votes for them, the Conservative party don't want to stop migration because it's cheap labour for employers - this has had a devastating effect on local jobs. Everybody talks about credit but nobody's talking about how to get those people off jobs and the Labour party's idea of invesment is actually borrowing £250bn from somebody else and putting up taxes on absolutely everybody.

"We are the only party that has an enterprise zone specially for cities and towns like Great Yarmouth... we're going to halve business rates, at the moment you've got business rates going up by 33-40%."

Catherine Blaiklock
BBC

Meet the candidates

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP)

Catherine Blaiklock, a local businesswoman, has lived in Norfolk since she was three months old.

Ms Blaiklock wants to put "The Great back into Great Yarmouth" by being UKIP's first real MP.

Catherine Blaiklock
BBC

James Joyce (Liberal Democrat)

James Joyce was a former county councillor, stepping down at the recent local elections - and was previously chair of the county council's children's services committee.

Mr Joyce has previously stood as a candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner's office in Norfolk.

James Joyce
BBC

Brandon Lewis (Conservative)

Brandon Lewis has held the seat of Great Yarmouth since 2010.

In July 2015, Mr Lewis was appointed Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service. He'd earlier served as Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and was an Under Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Brandon Lewis
BBC

Mike Smith-Clare (Labour)

Mike Smith-Clare was awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year honours for his work within the community of Great Yarmouth.

Mr Smith-Clare is a school governor, community project development manager for the town's football club and a panel member for the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Mike Smith-Clare
BBC

Harry Webb (Green Party)

Harry Webb was a parish councillor in Caister, taking up the post when he was a teenage.

Mr Webb stood as the Green's candidate for the parliamentary seat of Great Yarmouth in the general election of 2015, securing just under 1,000 votes..

Harry Webb
BBC

Great Yarmouth constituency profile

The constituency of Great Yarmouth stretches from Winterton (pictured below) in the north, to Hopton-on-Sea - home of the World Indoor Bowls Championships in the south.

In its centre is the seaside town of Great Yarmouth. The town has several social and economic issues which the five candidates are campaigning on, and there are also national issues.

Last June, 71% of the electorate voted to leave the European Union.

Winterton beach
Geograph/Stephen McKay
Indoor bowls
Getty Images

Half the constituents live in the urban Yarmouth and Gorleston areas, with the rest in the agricultural areas between Winterton and Hopton.

The area has had continual unemployment problems, exacerbated by the seasonal nature of employment in the key sectors of the local economy - agriculture, tourism and the exploitation of offshore gas supplies.

Two people sitting in deckchairs on Great Yarmouth beach
BBC

The town has benefitted from a lot of European and government regeneration money in recent years. A new port has been built, an the growth of offshore wind farms has helped the local economy.

Offshore wind turbines
Geograph/Chris Downer

The seat has had a habit of changing between Conservatives and Labour. Held for years by the Tories, Tony Wright ousted Michael Carttiss in the Labour landslide of 1997. Mr Wright held the seat through to the general election of 2010, when Labour lost power nationally, giving way to a coalition government. Brandon Lewis won the seat for the Conservatives, with a 4,000 majority, and was re-elected in 2015, increasing his majority of Labour to more than 6,000.

It was widely speculated that the constituency could have become one of the first areas to have a UKIP MP in the 2015 election - at that time UKIP had made its presence known in the town hall, wining 10 of the 13 seats that were contested in the 2014 local election.

In the end, UKIP came third, with Labour in second place.

Welcome to Norfolk Live

In just over a week's time, the country goes to the polls.

The parliamentary seat of Great Yarmouth was won from Labour by the Conservatives' Brandon Lewis in 2010. The area has the lowest turn-out in Norfolk - but during the 2015 general election, more than 10,000 people voted for UKIP.

Mr Lewis is standing again for the Tories, and faces a battle with candidates from four other parties:

Catherine Blaiklock (UKIP), James Joyce (Liberal Democrat), Mike Smith-Clare (Labour), Harry Webb (Green Party).

This morning, three of those candidates - Catherine Blaiklock, Brandon Lewis and Mike Smith-Clare - are taking part in a debate on BBC Radio Norfolk.

We'll bring you the key points of that debate as they unfold.

We will also have the statements from the other two candidates, James Joyce and Harry Webb

View of Great Yarmouth seafront
Geograph/Andie Jamieson