Climate change was one of biggest talking points as the battle for Westminster hotted up in Petersfield last Tuesday.

Half a dozen parliamentary hopefuls for East Hampshire gathered at St Peter’s for a hustings.

The Post joined forces with Shine Radio and St Peter’s for the ‘Election Questions’ event with questions being asked by Rev Will Hughes and presenter Clare Vennis.

Damian Hinds (Con), Matthew Kellermann (Reform UK), Richard Knight (Greens), Jim Makin (Hampshire Independents), Dominic Martin (Lib Dems) and Lucy Sims (Lab) took part with Sara Smith of the Social Democratic Party not attending.

Each candidate gave an introduction before taking a mixture of questions from the audience and some emailed to Shine.

Mr Hinds began by speaking of his honour of representing East Hampshire for 14 years before lauding his party as a safe bet, highlighting lower inflation and reduced crime.

Reform UK candidate Kellermann didn’t feel the same about the Tories, calling them “afraid of public opinion”.

He said: “I think one of the things lacking at the moment is politicians who are prepared to listen.”

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Damian Hinds in full flow during the hustings (Tindle/Paul Ferguson)

Mr Knight was quick to raise the environment card, saying he is “scared for the state of the planet” before Mr Makin gave by far the most entertaining and eye-opening speech, comparing the chairman of the World Economic Forum to a Bond villain and ridiculing the science of climate change.

Mr Martin reminded the audience of the “failures” of 14 years of Conservative governments  – the Truss mini-budget, issues with seeing dentists, sewage being pumped into rivers, etc – before Mrs Sims repeated calls for change, saying all her 14-year-old had ever known was Tory rule.

Questions ranged from policies for young people and ‘delivering utopian policies’ to thoughts on climate change and getting justice for migrants who drown in the English Channel.

Mr Knight said addressing the issues which cause migration – namely war, persecution and environmental hardship – were key while Mr Makin called for more humanity after accusing the US of being instrumental in prolonging the Ukrainian war.

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A question is about about getting justice for drowned migrants. (Tindle/Paul Ferguson)

Mr Martin and Mrs Sims suggested targeting the criminal gangs, Mr Hinds lauded the Rwanda bill and Mr Kellermann called for more patrols in the Channel and tougher immigration laws.

Upon being asked ‘what is your climate action plan’ Mrs Laws and Mr Knight called for more investment in green energy while Mr Martin claimed the recent push in wind power as down to Ed Davey. But two didn’t have a green agenda, with Mr Kellermann calling climate change “bogus” while Mr Makin hailed carbon dioxide as “the gas of life”.

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Clare Vennis asks the questions (Tindle/Paul Ferguson)

The best question of the night arguably came from Nicola Winter as the HomeStart Butser chief asked ‘what issues are we not talking about enough?’.

Messrs Hinds and Kellermann answered ‘online safety’ and ‘immigration’ while Mr Martin went for the ‘standard of integrity in public office’ and the Labour candidate believes ‘drug and alcohol’ addiction is being overlooked.

The hustings finished with a short speech from each candidate and thanks from Rev Hughes for a well-behaved debate.