Bury St Edmunds’ Parliamentary candidates head out into their communities

Green Party candidates' Q+A 'Mildenhall College Academy. 'Dr Helen Geake and Niall Pettitt, Green Party candidates for Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk, are speaking to Government & Politics A level students at the academy. ANL-150903-231240009
Green Party candidates' Q+A 'Mildenhall College Academy. 'Dr Helen Geake and Niall Pettitt, Green Party candidates for Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk, are speaking to Government & Politics A level students at the academy. ANL-150903-231240009
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Parliamentary candidates have been out in force in West Suffolk this week as the General Election creeps closer.

Dr Helen Geake, Green Party candidate for Bury St Edmunds, visited sixth form students at Mildenhall College Academy on Monday for a question-and-answer session.

Jo Churchill meets business leaders in Bury. (L-R) James Hogg, Jane Sewell (Hazells), Miriam Watson (Best of Bury), Conservative Parliamentary candidate Jo Churchill, Val Remington-Hobbs, Michele Bailey (best of Bury) and Chris Oakes (Hazells) ANL-151003-125500001

Jo Churchill meets business leaders in Bury. (L-R) James Hogg, Jane Sewell (Hazells), Miriam Watson (Best of Bury), Conservative Parliamentary candidate Jo Churchill, Val Remington-Hobbs, Michele Bailey (best of Bury) and Chris Oakes (Hazells) ANL-151003-125500001

She talked to government and politics students, among others, about the party’s policies, as part of the academy’s Political Awareness Week.

Alongside her and also speaking to students was 23-year-old Niall Pettitt, the Green party’s first ever West Suffolk candidate.

Dr Geake believes the Green party is drawing support from Conservative and the Liberal Democrat voters in the county.

“We’re also drawing in a lot of non-voters who are disenchanted with the current offering,” she said.

“This is the first time there has been a West Suffolk Green candidate. We’re growing fast at the moment, but we don’t have the party machinery that the other parties have.

“It is a challenge to fight the Conservatives, but the whole political landscape has changed in the last five years and it’s interesting working out where the balls will drop.”

Mr Pettitt, who is studying Public Policy and the Environment at the University of East Anglia, said: “It is going to be a very interesting election.

“Nobody from the Green Party has stood here before so we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday Jo Churchill, Bury’s Conservative Parliamentary candidate, spent a morning talking to independent business owners from the Best of Bury St Edmunds group.

Formed eight years ago, the group gives independent businesses a platform to make connections and holds fortnightly networking mornings in and around the town.

Mrs Churchill talked to members of the group including founder Miriam Watson and co-manager Michele Bailey at a networking event at Benson Blakes, in Bury.

While praising the town’s independent traders, Mrs Churchill said her current focus was about ‘being part of the community’.

She has recently visited a number of local primary and secondary schools in Bury, fielding tough questions from students, and has spent time on the other side of her constituency in Stowmarket.

“Local business is important to me, but it’s not the only thing I’m focused on,” she said.

“I’m finding my feet in the community. I have been trying to listen hard and reach out to everyone.”

Mrs Churchill, who is currently working from a base in Bury, acknowledged threats from other political parties including the Greens, who she believes have some ‘strong support’ in the area.

“I am not about blasting anyone’s views. The things that are important to us all are not party-political,” she said.

“I understand there are threats from the other parties and I have no intention of getting complacent.”

The other Parliamentary candidates for Bury are William Edwards (Labour) and John Howlett (UKIP).