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Bridgnorth hustings: Business as usual after turban controversy

By Deborah Hardiman | Bridgnorth | General Election 2019 | Published: | Last Updated:

Bridgnorth's election hustings passed without controversy days after a former government minister remarked that a Sikh opponent was "talking through his turban".

Top; Philip Dunne and Heather Kidd . Bottom; Hilary Wendt and Kuldip Sahota.

Police are investigating Conservative parliamentary candidate Philip Dunne for alleged hate crime after he made the comment to his Labour rival Kuldip Sahota and subsequently apologised.

There have even been calls for him to be suspended by his party over the alleged racist remark.

But at the latest public hustings it was business as usual on the campaign trail. There was no mention of the issue.

About 150 people attended the event on Friday night, hosted by St Mary Magdalene Church, in Bridgnorth, which falls in the Ludlow constituency.

After the gathering which covered questions including Brexit, mental health, housing, climate change, the effects of cyber crime, farming and public transport - Mr Sahota told the Shropshire Star both he and Mr Dunne had moved on since the incident at Church Stretton's hustings almost a week ago. While Mr Dunne who is seeking re-election as MP declined to comment further on the matter.

Despite occasional heckles aimed towards Mr Dunne over cuts to public spending, arms sales to Saudi Arabia and climate change, the panel which also featured Liberal Democrat Heather Kidd and the Green Party's Hilary Wendt praised the audience at the East Castle Street venue for engaging with them.

Highley mother Nicky Barker told the candidates she had personal experience of dealing with Shropshire's child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) operated by by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She told the meeting that the service was failing families.

"CAMHS is an absolute disgrace. My own daughter and others are being failed because this government has not been able to give the money that it says it needs to address the needs," she said.

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Heather Kidd, a former headteacher, replied that for too long mental health had been the 'Cinderella' of the NHS.

She said: "CAMHS had been turned into a really failing service. If you got hold of them it can be very good. However, it could leave parents in a mess or leave parents on hold.

"It has got to be totally overhauled and funded properly."

Hilary Wendt said: "This goes back to the fact that funding for the NHS is much less than in comparable developed countries. Local authorities have lost 60p in the pound. The shortage is everywhere."

Kuldip Sahota said: "This is an issue close to my heart. For seven or eight years now I have gone through the system with a member of my family. I have been banging my head against a brick wall trying to get help. It's all to do with funding."

Philip Dunne said: "£2.3 billion of the £34.9bn that we have earmarked for the NHS will go to mental health. We will also have one teacher in schools who is trained to look out for children exhibiting early signs of such issues."

Deborah Hardiman

By Deborah Hardiman
@Deborahh_Star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based out of the head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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