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Climate change and integrity of politicians among top issues for first-time voters

PUBLISHED: 18:41 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:41 10 December 2019

The hustings with the Ipswich Parliamentary candidates at Northgate High School. Picture: JO WARD

The hustings with the Ipswich Parliamentary candidates at Northgate High School. Picture: JO WARD

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Sixth form students in Ipswich who will be voting in their first general election this week shared the issues that matter to them in a special hustings event on Tuesday.

Northgate students from left to right: Jonathan Coulson, Thea Pettitt, Joshua Farrell, Alex Heasman-Bailey and Zoe Nunn. Picture: JASON NOBLENorthgate students from left to right: Jonathan Coulson, Thea Pettitt, Joshua Farrell, Alex Heasman-Bailey and Zoe Nunn. Picture: JASON NOBLE

Around 200 sixth form students at Northgate High School quizzed the five Ipswich Parliamentary candidates on a host of issues, including Brexit, gang problems in the town, the voting age and social media regulation.

But it was climate change and politician integrity which emerged as the key issues for first-time voters.

Zoe Nunn, 18, said: "The childish nature in Parliament has been brought up, and that definitely needs to be sorted out.

"It didn't seem like two of the major parties had much to say about it - it was blaming the other one.

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"A lot of this election and the referendum when it came to Brexit, a lot of it was lies and immaturity.

"I don't know who is a reliable source anymore."

Joshua Farrell, 17, added: "I think the climate crisis is possibly more important than Brexit, because while Brexit will have a lot more short term issues, the environment is something that will affect us 50 years from now, 100 years from now, and that's something we really need to take care of."

Thea Pettitt, 18, will be casting her vote for the first time on Thursday, and said the climate agenda was a key issue for her. She added: "I have been organising the youth strikes in Ipswich, so I have got first hand experience of this. I think the only reason it is on the agenda for this election is because of the work of grassroots activism, going out on the streets and showing the politicians what we care about."

Alex Heasman-Bailey, 18, said the issue of social media and deception tactics by politicians was key. He said: "I think a lot of young voters rely heavily on social media, and it's clear the two main parties here have used deceptive tactics on social media. I don't think some of the responses to those points were really adequate."

The debate was chaired by economics teacher Will Pierce who runs the school's debating society, and said the school had been working hard to encourage eligible students to register to vote.

It represented the last of the Question Time-style hustings event of the campaign for the five candidates.


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