Confusion after election hustings event cancelled

READY TO DEABATE: Labour candidate Jake RichardsREADY TO DEABATE: Labour candidate Jake Richards
READY TO DEABATE: Labour candidate Jake Richards
A PRE-ELECTION hustings in the Rother Valley ward has been cancelled with both main parties blaming each other.

The debate, which was due to take place at the Wesley Centre in Maltby next Friday night, was called off today, with no rearranged date yet set.

Labour candidate Jake Richards said Conservative Alexander Stafford had been avoiding any debate, and added: “At this election, the choice is clear: five more years of Tory failure, or change with Labour.

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“It is deeply regrettable that after seven months of trying to organise a debate, Alexander continues to refuse and, as we speak, no hustings has been organised. Residents deserve better.

READY TO DEBATE: Alexander StaffordREADY TO DEBATE: Alexander Stafford
READY TO DEBATE: Alexander Stafford

“I am instead holding multiple events across the constituency for people to ask me questions or raise any issues with me.”

However, Mr Stafford, who is campaigning to hold on to the seat he won in 2019, said: he was looking forward to a debate and added: “I agreed to do a hustings this week at the Wesley Centre in Maltby - but apparently it was cancelled at the behest of the Labour Party chair.

“I understand the organisers - Action for Maltby - are trying to rearrange a find a new venue and I will of course be in attendance. I look forward to debating the positive case for Rother Valley, and why we cannot go back to being ignored by Labour for another 101 years.”

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Action For Maltby, who were due to chair the debate, said on its Facebook page that the cancellation was not the fault of either Mr Stafford or Mr Richards, and added:: “Sadly, the hustings have being cancelled by the Wesley Centre due to apparent staff shortages.

“We want to make it clear this has got nothing to do with any candidate not attending.

“In the meantime we will be trying to secure another venue to make the hustings possible. We apologise for this but it is out of our hands. Hopefully we can secure another venue to make this possible.”

Debate raged on Facebook as to who was behind the cancellation, and one person posted: “To be clear, the event was not cancelled by the Wesley Centre, the event was cancelled by the organiser of the event, who informed the Wesley Centre yesterday they wished to cancel the booking of the venue. Who may I ask organised this event and was due diligence put in place to organise security, etc or was this overlooked and that was the real reason the event was cancelled?”

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Some commenters asked why another venue or date could not be organised.

The Wesley Centre itself said: “The Maltby Community Development Trust are unable to hold a planned hustings event but would like to make the statement that this has nothing to do with any of the political candidates. Ticket refunds will be made over the course of the next few days.”

Mr Richards has announced an open question and answer session at The Queens Hotel in Maltby from 3pm on Monday.

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