One politician revealed he experienced “anger and abuse” for the first time while out campaigning for the local elections.
Candidates speaking at a hustings at St Peter’s School on Tuesday (30 April) said national politics has had an impact on their conversations with residents – but that for some people focusing on York issues has been “refreshing”.
Labour’s Kallum Taylor said:
I think this is the first time I have experienced anger and abuse and that is worrying because I think it’s getting normalised. We need to tackle that and call it out when we see it.
Deputy leader of the Conservative group Stuart Rawlings added: “The national stuff is a real problem and it will far reduce democracy if it means fewer people vote.”
When asked if they would be in favour of a second referendum on Brexit, Mr Rawlings said no, while the Green Party’s Dave Taylor and Liberal Democrat Ashley Mason said they would.
Kallum Taylor said he is in favour of a vote on the final deal.
Residents asked questions across a range of topics including on whether there has been too much focus on York Central to the neglect of other development sites, how candidates would balance the city’s expansion with its congestion problems, and how they would tackle the city’s “urgent need for more social workers”.
The candidates were also asked what one thing they would do to improve congestion in the city.
Labour’s Kallum Taylor said he would want to see the city centre pedestrianised, while the Greens’ Dave Taylor said he would like to see a network of electric buses in York.
Stuart Rawlings of the Conservatives said he would like cycle routes to be upgraded and Lib Dem Ashley Mason said he would focus on improving public transport.
But all agreed that tackling pollution and congestion in the city should be a cross-party effort.
St Peter’s School head teacher Jeremy Walker said: “I think the one thing that genuinely unites all local councillors is that they genuinely want to get out there and do their best to make a positive difference in their community.”
The City of York Council election takes place tomorrow (Thursday 2 May) and the polling stations are open between 7am and 10pm.