VIDEO: Would-be MPs step up fight at region’s first hustings

Candidates battling to become the new MP for Louth and Horncastle were involved in lively debate on the state of the economy this week.

Victoria Atkins (Conservative), Colin Mair (UKIP) and Matthew Brown (Labour) took part in an a hustings in Horncastle.

Candidates for the Louth and Horncastle seat at last week's hustings

Candidates for the Louth and Horncastle seat at last week's hustings

It was the first time they had spoken on the same platform in an event organised by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Mrs Atkins launched a staunch defence of the Government and insisted their economic policies were working.

She said unemployment in the constituency had fallen significantly and more than 3,000 new apprenticeships had been created since 2010.

She pledged that if re-elected, the Conservatives would continue to help small business by cutting red tape and looking at what she admitted was a “complicated” tax system.

Mrs Atkins said: “There are a lot of success stories. There is still lots we can do but the signs are there.”

However, Mr Brown accused the Conservatives of what he called ‘Houdini’ economics.

He said: “You only have to look at the local High Streets to see that businesses are struggling. Shops are closing and people don’t have money in their pockets.”

Mr Brown said a Labour Government would invest in the economy and said that if elected, he would campaign for more help for small businesses.

Mr Mair claimed local businesses were being damaged by red-tape, high taxes and rates - and issues like car parking charges.

He also called for a revamp of the education system and claimed not enough emphasis was placed on ‘core’ subjects like maths and English.

Predictably, the trio clashed on Europe with Mr Mair saying there was too much interference in British affairs.

Mr Brown pointed out Europe was Britain’s main source of revenue while Mrs Atkins promised the Government would look at the terms of Britain’s membership.

The trio did unite to call for a faster broadband service and better transport links.

They also called for more funding to help police fight the increasing menace of cyber crime.