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WBT Hustings Q&A

Thursday 6 May 2010, 17:03
By John Smith

[EDITOR: Yes, we realise this article has arrived uselessly late - apologies to the candidates who took the time and effort to respond. There's still a chance some of you will see it before voting, but even if you don't it's an interesting read]]

After the recent election Hustings in the Balsam Centre, Wincanton, sponsored by Wincanton Churches Together, WBT presented our candidates with a list of questions that are important to the business community. We asked them if they would be kind enough to send us a written reply as much in advance of the Election Day as possible, so that we could publish the results in the Wincanton Window and other local media.

Annunziata Rees-Mogg (Conservatives) – awaiting reply
David Heath (Liberal Democrats) – awaiting reply
David Oakensen (Labour) – awaiting reply
Barry Harding (UKIP)
Niall Warry (Independent)

The questions and answers are set out below in the order they were submitted. After each question are the answers provided by the candidates, unaltered, in the order they were received. The colour coding is not meant to portray the colours of the individuals or parties. They are simply there to differentiate between the candidates answers.

We hope that you found the actual hustings to be a successful event and that the answers below will help you to arrive at an informed vote on the Election Day. Feel free to comment at the bottom.

Q1 – Alan Large from APL Health and Safety

Could you explain how your party, if elected, would help small businesses?


Niall Warry

By fighting to leave the EU as on leaving the EU small business will be saved form miles of EU red tape.

Barry Harding

A huge question! The basis would be to reduce bureaucracy and let folks get on with running their businesses. Leaving the EU would enable us to review and abandon so many centralist type directives. About 50% of quangos would be axed. The tax threshold would be increased to £11,500 to allow start-ups an easier time; and tax simplified by having a single flat rate income tax rate of 31% to include National Insurance contributions.

Q2 – John Smith WBT

What will you do to encourage new business start-ups?


Niall Warry

Promote tax incentives.

Barry Harding

Please latter part of above answer. UKIP would also end VAT and replace it by a simple national tax of 12.5% and a local Sales Tax of 5%, receipts of which will go to local councils to encourage them to stimulate business activity.

Q3 – Bernard Pearson - The Discworld Emporium – Wincanton

Labour regards the West-country as a rural back lands devoid of their electoral interest. Given that tourism is one of the few areas in the West that is turning a shilling for companies involved in this sector of the entertainment industry, when is the A303 going to be turned into a viable dual carriage trunk road rather than the ribbon of misery it is now - discuss.


Niall Warry

Improving the A303 to continuous dual by fighting carriageway should be the number one transport priority for Somerset and the West Country. If necessary, private investment and tolls should be considered.

Barry Harding

Treacle Lane would be replaced by a proper dualled A303 (sorry could not resist the Discworld reference!). The cost of £2 billion would be less than 25% of our annual Overseas Aid bill. All of the LibLabCon have promised to ring fence overseas aid and increase it to over £13 billion pa – this is wrong. I am also committed to updating the A350, A37 and A361 and by-passing villages. The Templecombe – Waterloo line also needs to return to twin track.

Q4 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

Why is the share of Public-Spending per person so much lower in the South-West of England than it is in (say) Scotland and what do the candidates propose to do about it?


Niall Warry

Public spending should be shared in proportion to the different areas of the UK. Scotland is over subsidized in my opinion which is not a policy I support.

Barry Harding

The Barnet Formula needs to be scrapped and English counties get back their fair share of taxes. Of course the EU is costing us around £120 billion pa in terms of regulation and payments (Tax Payers Alliance) – quitting the EU would set us a good part of the way to solving our Budget Deficit problem and allowing proper investment in infrastructure in Britain.

Q5 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

Is continued membership of the European Union important to the South-West AND Why?


Niall Warry

No it is ruining our fishing, farming and business.

Barry Harding

Quite the contrary – we cannot afford the EU. As a trade negotiator I know the EU is a one way trip. "In Europe but not ruled by Europe" is unrealistic. You are either stupid or duplicitous to peddle that line. When we get out we will be able to trade worldwide because of our World Trade Organisation rights, augmented with bilateral trade agreements e.g. Switzerland – EU.

Q6 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

What changes (if any) would you support to our current national policy on our nuclear-deterrent and what affect would it have in the South-West


Niall Warry

I support our independent nuclear deterrent in this uncertain world. Keeping it will support the Navy bases in the SW.

Barry Harding

We need Trident and its replacement. Production of the subs would be in Britain and the missiles in the USA. We would ensure that plenty of the contracts and sub-contracts went to the SW. More at

Q7 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

Should we join the euro-zone AND how does your response affect the South-West?


Niall Warry

Most definitely NO! NO! NO!

Barry Harding

No. See previous answers

Q8 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

What is the maximum population for the UK that you believe to be sustainable and at what annual percentage of growth (or decline) do you think should be the maximum rate of change that should sensibly be accommodated. Is the change the same for all areas, if not what would be your figures for the South-West.


Niall Warry

I believe we are nearing our maximum so it is up to the people to decide if they want to move a situation like Hong Kong.

Barry Harding

60 million is about right for the UK and the South west should remain unchanged. All the LibLabCon favour Turkey joining the EU and therefore 74 million Turks having right of abode in the UK. They favour 600,000 new homes in the SW, some 40% to house immigrants. You cannot have a UK immigration policy whilst in the EU – Immigration is an EU competency and free movement of people within its borders a basic tenet of the EU.

Q9 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

What is your solution to the severe road congestion that occurs in the South-West particularly during holiday periods; and when would your solution be implemented?


Niall Warry

I support new road building and especially bye-passes. Environmental considerations must be considered but NOT become a block.

Barry Harding

What you again Ed! Pl see answer to Q3

Q10 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

Why are average earnings lower in the South-West than nationally (and in particular relative to the South-East) and what should be done (if anything) to try to equalise the situation.


Niall Warry

The cost of living varies around the country and so it should. London and Taunton are bound to be different.

Barry Harding

Quality of life is higher and some folk are willing to make that trade-off. We need to develop infrastructure in the SW, discourage immigration (into the UK), and expel illegal immigrants (probably 1 million). We also need to better exploit the special strengths of Somerset and make it the Food and Drink capital of Britain.

Q11 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

Should there be, for all employees (including publicly funded employees) a maximum value remuneration package (salary/pension/bonus/benefits - calculated at a daily rate, to prevent people getting round the regulation with multiple jobs) – If so what should the maximum value be.


Niall Warry

No this sound like State planning to me!

Barry Harding

No. Folks should be allowed to work as hard as they like to improve their lot. Public sector salaries should however be capped; nonsense remuneration for clerks in town halls paid for by people stretched to pay their council taxes is immoral.

Q12 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

In view of the current national indebtedness, should the NHS be spared any scrutiny regarding the level of public funding and why?


Niall Warry

No. The NHS is bloated and very inefficient.

Barry Harding

No. I have family and friends who work in the NHS. There is tremendous waste there – especially amongst so-called managers. With 600,000 foreigners treated on the NHS in 2008, managers should be billing foreigners and collecting payments. More at

Q13 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

In view of the current national indebtedness, should the Education be spared any scrutiny regarding the level of public funding and why?


Niall Warry

No. Education is bloated and very inefficient.

Barry Harding

No. UKIP believes in a voucher system for education which could be used for 100% of a state education or towards a private one. The voucher should be fully transferable.

Q14 – Ed Cooper - Managing Director – Cordsoft

What are you going to do about public-service-pensions?


Niall Warry

Fight to expose the way they have been feather bedded and get them brought into line as we after all pay for them.

Barry Harding

UKIP would tackle this problem, mainly by increasing the retirement age, reducing the speed at which pensions accrue and tackling above inflation salary increases in the public sector, as well as reducing the public sector headcount. More at

Q15 – John Smith – Link-2 - Local web design and IT business

What will your part do about the ludicrous situation in the health service? We have a super computer programme being built which is already extremely over budget and extremely late. I attended hospital for a regular check-up today at the Eye Clinic. I discovered that the data produced by my excellent optician and the data produced at the hospital regarding my case remain totally separate because it is too much work and effort to combine them. I had my usual eye test a couple of months ago and this information should surely be passed to the hospital so that they have an accurate picture regarding the status of my eyes.


Niall Warry

I do not know enough about the new NHS computer system apart from that it is over budget and doesn't work. I believe large computer systems will in the long run be more trouble than they are worth and the current system needs to be halted for a full review to decide on the best way forward.

Barry Harding

I agree - Ridiculous! Pl see answer to Question 13. Personally, I always insist on keeping my own X-rays and as many health records as possible.

Q16 – John Smith – Ex Governor of King Arthur's Community School, Wincanton

What would your part do to restore stability and quality of education in our education system? It would seem that the main way forward is to treat schools like business and encourage competition between schools. There is a move to attract voters by telling them that you will allow them to choose the school their children go to.

This may seem good to the politician, but on the ground you are simply creating a huge nightmare. If a school is not performing to an acceptable standard this system penalises that school with parents choosing to send their children elsewhere. I don't see this as a caring attitude. I see it as anti good education. In business if a company is not performing you look for the cause and sort it out. It is only shut down if the cause is not repairable.

If you feel it is so important to give parents the freedom of choice don't you think that parents should have the comfort of knowing that their local school will give their children a good education without the hassle of having to search out other schools, possibly cross boundary?

If schools have problems, don't penalise them. Diagnose the problem and get them back on course.

Successive governments seem to want the state school to be a clone of the private sector. This is impossible unless you are willing to invest the same finance to create the same conditions. If this is the case that means that there would be no market place for private schools because the state schools would have all the same facilities without parents having to pay large fees.

What would your party do about this?


Niall Warry

Schools must be freed from Government interference and Local Authority control. Head Teachers must be free to run their schools and be held to account if they do not perform.

Barry Harding

As I explained at the Hustings, I believe poorly performing schools would improve their own performance and agree with you they should be helped to do so – just like a poorly performing business. Perhaps we need to do more to develop this policy 2007 paper at

Q17 – John Smith – Link-2

Same question as No:6, except for the Health service. What are you prepared to do to refresh our hospitals? Are you prepared to stop penalising, and begin diagnosing and healing so that all our hospitals are good?


Niall Warry

Hospitals must be freed from Government interference and Hospital Directors must be free to run their Hospitals according to local needs and be held to account if they do not perform.

Barry Harding

Please see answer to Question 13 above

Q18 – Sue Place – Manager - The Balsam Centre

The voluntary sector supplies a lot of essential services in our community. What is your party policy to support and work with this sector, and how is this going to be funded.


Niall Warry

The volunteer sector must be supported and promoted by Government and given tax breaks wherever possible.

Barry Harding

I agree the contribution of the voluntary sector is huge and should be encouraged. Silly rules which require vast numbers of personal checks etc need to be repealed or simplified so that folk are not discouraged from volunteering. Funding of UKIP's proposals is mainly by quitting the EU, and cutting quangos and overseas aid.


What is the candidates view on the ideal value of £ sterling to both the Euro and US$?


Niall Warry

I believe in a free market so sterling must be left to find its own level.

Barry Harding

Let the market decide! My prediction is the Euro will cease to exist within a decade anyway. Obama is working on ruining the US economy just the way Brown ruined that of the UK.


Does the candidate support a referendum on the European issue in general, and if so when?


Niall Warry

Yes the people of this country must be given the chance of a fair and open referendum on our membership of the EU asap.

Barry Harding

Yes, and immediately!

I would like to thank Mr. Niall Warry, and Mr Barry Harding for taking time from their extremely busy schedule to supply answers to our questions. I apologise to Barry for being slow to update the online article. I was swamped this end too.

We wish them and the other candidates best wishes for the rest of the campaign, and WBT looks forward to working with the successful candidate in the future. We are happy to help them in the promotion and support of our growing business community.

John Smith
Chairman - WBT


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