Taunton Deane election candidates debate road scheme

Taunton Deane election debate, Monday, 27th April, 2015 at Richard Huish College, Taunton
Image caption The election debate was held at Richard Huish College in Taunton by BBC Somerset

Plans to introduce a dual carriageway between Taunton and Ilminster have been debated among election candidates in Taunton Deane.

In December, the coalition government committed to dualling the A358 and the A303.

BBC Somerset's live debate at Richard Huish College was attended by all the candidates except Independent Bruce Gauld.

The debate also saw cross-party support for Taunton to have its own university.

Labour's Neil Guild said his party would postpone the A358 improvements to "fund a rail freeze for next year which benefits everybody in the country".

However, he supported dualling of the A303 at Stonehenge and between Sparkford and Ilminster.

Liberal Democrat Rachel Gilmour pledged to keep the money for the A358 dualling project.

Independent Mike Rigby said he would support the protection of bus subsidies, the creation of more cycling paths, as well as the dualling of the A358.

Image caption Candidates also backed Taunton getting its own university to boost educational opportunities

Conservative Rebecca Pow said she had ensured the A358 project had been "back on the government's agenda".

Laura Bailhache, from UKIP, said the A358 was a priority but opposed building a tunnel underneath Stonehenge as part of the A303 project.

She added: "We should be reopening the smaller railways and that's going to help an area like the South West."

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate Stephen German said: "We need to re-nationalise under democratic public controls the railways, the buses - there would be no debate, no controversy over the subsidies - they would be adequately run."

Clive Martin, from the Green Party, said: "We need to spend some of the money earmarked for roads, on buses, on trains on cycle ways, on bringing in a railway station at Wellington."

Image caption UKIP, Independent Mike Rigby and the Green Party all wanted to scrap the HS2 rail project

The candidates for the constituency are:

Rebecca Pow - Conservative

Clive Martin - Green

Bruce Gauld - Independent

Neil Guild - Labour

Rachel Gilmour - Liberal Democrat

Mike Rigby - Independent

Steve German - Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

Laura Bailhache - UKIP

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