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Summary

  1. Updates on Tuesday, 30 May 2017
  2. Kettering MP hopefuls debate issues ahead of the general election
  3. The candidates taking part are:
  4. Suzanna Austin (Liberal Democrats)
  5. Philip Hollobone (Conservatives)
  6. Rob Reeves (Green)
  7. Mick Scrimshaw (Labour)

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The debate is over

That's it for our live coverage of the Kettering constituency debate. Thanks for joining us.

You've been reading the views of all four candidates standing in the general election on Thursday, 8 June.

Follow what else happens in the constituency on the BBC's general election pages.

Later today on the BBC Northampton index, we'll bring you debates from the Daventry and South Northamptonshire seats.

From 08:00 on Wednesday, we'll bring you the Wellingborough debate, live from Rush 2 The Den - a youth club and children's centre in Rushden.

Ballot boxes
Getty Images

Kettering: Recent polling history

Kettering had been a Labour constituency from the end of World War Two until 1983.

There following 14 years of returned a Conservative MP until it was regained by Labour during Tony Blair's landslide of 1997.

It turned blue again in 2005, when Philip Hollobone won it back for the Tories, and he's held it ever since.

The results in 2015 were:

  • Philip Hollobone (Con) 24,467 (+2.7%)
  • Rhea Keehn (Lab) 11,877 (-4.8%)
  • Jonathan Bullock (UKIP) 7,600 (+16.1%)
  • Rob Reeves (Green) 1,633 (+3.5%)
  • Chris McGlynn (Lib Dem) 1,490 (-12.7%)
  • Derek Hilling (Eng Dem) 151 (-1.7%)

Green Party: Brexit requires more answers

Rob Reeves (Green Party): "I would support a second referendum. I remember debating with Philip [Hollobone, who won the Kettering seat in 2015] during the referendum campaign and one of the biggest questions was 'what is our relationship with the EU going to look like if we do come out?' and neither of us could give people an answer because we just didn't know.

"Now we are beginning to develop a picture.

"I think it is really important for people to decide again whether they are happy with this deal and it puts pressure on the government to get it right first time."

Lib Dem: Brexit deal requires 'final say' from the people

Posed with the idea that leader Tim Farron is an "irrelevance" for wanting to stay in the EU, Suzanne Austin (Liberal Democrat) says: "What he [Farron] is actually asking for is for people to have a final say on the deal that we're presented with.

"We have fully accepted that the country would like to leave the EU, but we do need to have a final say.

"We should have a say on if it is the right way forward to future generations."

Tim Farron
European Photopress Agency
Tim Farron campaigning in London earlier this month

Labour: Brexit negotiations 'difficult' for whoever is PM

Mick Scrimshaw (Labour): "I think the negotiations with Europe are going to be difficult. I think it is wrong for Theresa May to say she is the only person to handle them - it is going to difficult for whoever takes office.

"I think that Jeremy Corbyn is in many ways in a much better position because he will take almost a more friendly approach.

"If you're negotiating tough deals, you need to do it around the table and have proper conversations. It's no good shouting and banging on about particular issues and I fear Theresa May will actually antagonise our partners.

"We could come out with a worse deal than we came in."

Theresa May
BBC

Conservatives: Brexit

Philip Hollobone (Conservatives): "61% of people in Kettering voted to leave the European Union (EU); the negotiations formally start 11 days after polling day and I dread the thought of Jeremy Corbyn leading us into those because Angela Merkel would walk all over him.

"If Theresa May isn't prime minister on 9 June, I very much fear for the future of this country."

Jeremy Corbyn in Bedford
South Beds News Agency
Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Bedford earlier this month

'We're looking at a real living wage' - Suzanne Austin

Asked how she would get better paid jobs into Kettering, Suzanne Austin (Liberal Democrats), says: "We need to work towards an economy that really pushes a high skill base.

"We've got an ideal constituency which is very well located, we have very good transport links and we've got a good skills base but we don't utilise it, we don't sell it. We need to push the education system and we need to recruit for the jobs we already have.

"We have a very good logistics base, we have got a very good healthcare system too, and we need to recruit in sectors like that and we have 11% of the population working in manufacturing - above the national average - again it is a sector that needs pushing."

"We are looking at a real living wage - not the government living wage - one that is based on what people do need to live on. It would be about £10 an hour but it would need to be fully costed. We are also looking at raising the caps on public sector workers which would put more money in their pockets."

'We'd increase the minimum wage' - Rob Reeves

Rob Reeves (Green Party): "Green Party policy is to increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour.

"We wouldn't have any restrictions on the minimum wage in terms of age, so everyone would get the same amount. Also, we'd be looking at trialling a universal basic income which gives every citizen in the United Kingdom a guaranteed income no matter what their personal situation is. Perhaps £80 a week, but it would be trialled first and then rolled out nationwide."

'We need a strong economy', says Philip Hollobone

Philip Hollobone (Conservatives): "People are keeping more of the money they earn. So, in 2010 when Labour last left office, if you earned £6,500 you started paying tax. Under the Conservatives that threshold is £11,500 so lots of people now aren't paying tax at all.

"For all these things - investment in public services, businesses doing well - we need a strong economy; every Labour government there has ever been has left office with more people unemployed than when they started."

Kettering in the 'perfect position' - Mick Scrimshaw

The next question debated surrounded wages.

Mick Scrimshaw (Labour) was first to answer. He said: "We need desperately to invest in our education system, but it needs to go further than that. We need to invest in small businesses and small to medium enterprises -Labour want to do that.

"That isn't currently happening. With the austerity agenda over the last few years there has been almost a stranglehold on the economy and small businesses are finding it hard to compete.

Chairing the debate, BBC Radio Northampton's Stuart Linnell raises the point that while Kettering's average wage is £29 a week below the national average, unemployment [at 3.9%] is well below the national unemployment rate of 4.8%.

"Kettering is a great town with great people," adds Scrimshaw. "Geographically we are in a perfect position to capitalise on that; we have the Midland Mainline into London and the A14 with links to the A1 and the M1. Kettering has a real opportunity here."

We want more investment in the NHS - Rob Reeves

"We advocate a fully funded NHS, and we would reverse any creeping privatisation." says Rob Reeves (Green Party). "There have been private contracts going out and it hasn't actually helped efficiency; I don't think that is the way to go, we need to have the whole health service in public hands.

"I would say all the major parties are to blame to some degree [for creeping privatisation], but I'd rather focus on our positive message of fully funding the service. One of our candidates from Northamptonshire - Dr. Scott Mabbutt - actually works at Kettering General Hospital and one of the reasons he joined the Green Party was because of our stance on the NHS."

Health service under 'immense pressure' - Suzanne Austin

Suzanne Austin (Liberal Democrats): "The health service in Kettering does an amazing job - but they are under immense pressure.

"As a party we are looking at an extra penny on income tax to put straight into the health service with a combined health and social care service which concentrates on trying to alleviate the pressures at that end, so stopping what some people call bed blocking."

Asked how her party can be sure that an extra penny on income tax would go to the health service specifically, she adds: "We are looking at ring-fencing that. Previous governments, including the Coalition government (2010-2015) have said that [in the past], but we have guarantees from Tim Farron and the party that it would be ring-fenced purely for the NHS and social care services."

Kettering Hospital staff 'superb' - Mick Scrimshaw

Mick Scrimshaw (Labour): "I think it is fair to say that there is a crisis in our health service. In Kettering in particular going into special measures clearly is not a good sign. The staff at Kettering General are superb, the service they offer patients is second to none.

"But clearly there are issues, most of this comes from the fact that the government are not investing enough in our health service. You [the BBC] reported that thousands of people have been taken off waiting lists for surgery without their knowledge - that has to be a big question for the management."

Kettering General Hospital denies claims from a whisteblower that they "fiddled" waiting lists.

Hospital 'one of the best things about Kettering,' says Philip Hollobone

The first issue to be debated by Kettering's election candidates is health; in April Kettering General Hospital was put into special measures and last week it was claimed that thousands of patients were removed from the hospital's waiting lists in a bid to "fiddle" the system.

Kettering debate
BBC

"Kettering is a wonderful place to live and it's getting better all the time," says Philip Hollobone (Conservatives). "But one of the best things about Kettering is the hospital. We mustn't lose sight of the fact that record numbers of people are being treated; now not everything is right, the reason the hospital is in special measures is because the government have 'beefed up' the inspections regime.

"So, when things do go wrong in local hospitals, there is an organisation who can step in to try to improve conditions - that is what is happening at Kettering, and extra investment is going in."

Meet the Kettering candidates

These are the general election candidates we’ll be hearing from in our debate at Kettering Swimming Pool this morning:

Suzanna Austin (Liberal Democrat)

Suzanna Austin
BBC

Philip Hollobone (Conservative)

Philip Hollobone
BBC

Rob Reeves (Green)

Rob Reeves
BBC

Mick Scrimshaw (Labour)

Mick Scrimshaw
BBC

The 'average' town debate

Sam Read

BBC Radio Northampton politics reporter

Much has been made recently of Kettering being an "average" town and it is interesting to see different spins and connotations put on the word.

Labour held this seat in Tony Blair's heyday but since then Conservative Philip Hollobone has been the MP, steadily increasing his majority.

It's interesting that this time he has decided to make a pact with UKIP, signing up to some of the party's ideas and in return there is no UKIP candidate.

UKIP came third in 2015 so the destination of those votes will be watched closely.

Labour's Mick Scrimshaw is known by some as the opposition spokesman on finance at Northamptonshire County Council.

For the Liberal Democrats, candidate Suzanna Austin will be looking to improve on 2015 when her party finished fifth behind the Greens, who are represented again by Rob Reeves.

Welcome to Kettering's general election debate

Today sees the fourth of our Northamptonshire general election debates.

We're going to each of the county's seven constituencies to meet the would-be MPs hoping to be voted into the House of Commons on 8 June.

Kettering town centre
Geograph/Richard Croft

This morning it's the turn of Kettering.

We'll be bringing you the main points from the debate here, after a look at the panel.