VIDEO: Things get heated at mayoral debate

Tempers flared at a heated mayoral debate where the candidates were grilled by members of Doncaster’s business community.

The event, organised by Doncaster Chamber, gave businesses the chance to question the candidates on their proposals and actions which will impact on business and the local economy if they were to be elected.

The candidates listen to Peter Davies at the mayoral election debate.  Picture: Andrew Roe

The candidates listen to Peter Davies at the mayoral election debate. Picture: Andrew Roe

But it was National Front Putting Britain First candidate Dave Owen who caused the biggest outrage of the evening when tackling a question about how he would support residents with disabilities.

Mr Owen suggested more people were suffering from disabilities because they were being “inoculated to death with monkey virus”.

He said: “More people are disabled today then when I was a lad and there is one common denominator, stop the vaccines, stop the disease.”

His comments were met with outrage from an audience member who said his comments were “Insulting, unbearable and indefensible.”

Mr Owen also shared his views on replacing Doncaster Airport with an international sports centre, arranging interest free loans for businesses in Doncaster and improving children’s services by making family court proceedings public.

He said: “I deal in common sense.”

David Allen from the English Democrats, John Brown, Liberal Democrats, Peter Davies, Independent, Martin Drake, Conservative, Mary Jackson, Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts, Ross Jones, Labour and Tony Ward, Independent - also attended the debate and all agreed that developing the airport and the road infrastructure was essential to developing business and attracting business to the borough.

Independent candidate Mick Maye and Doug Wright from Save Your Services did not attend the debate at Doncaster College.

The candidates discussed the economy, infrastructure and local authority services during the lively debate.

Throughout the evening Mayor Peter Davies defended his time in office when faced with criticism.

Fighting off criticism from Labour candidate Ross Jones Mr Davies said he had “inherited” the problem of children‘s services and although work still needed to be done it was “100 per cent better than it was.”

Mr Davies said since being in power he had invested £1m in Doncaster market and it had been voted favourite market of 2012.

Mr Davies said the town had the fourth most regenerated high street in the country, and 13 million more day trippers visited Doncaster than Blackpool.

He said FARRRS the Inland Port and developing the airport would continue to be priorities for him if re-elected.

He added: “I have a total commitment to Doncaster and people’s fortunes have improved over the last four years”

David Allen from the English Democrats said attracting more EU finding was important and introducing apprenticeship schemes that resulted in long term jobs for people.

In terms of children’s services Mr Allen said the culture had to change where there is more “moral responsibilty.”

He added: “If I was elected I would try and attract not just employment for people but meaningful employment.”

Businessman John Brown from Liberal Democrats said he would set up the Doncaster Bank to make it easier for businesses to get loans he said: “Banks are holding our businesses hostage they want the shirt off your back and the keys to your home.”

Teaching entrepreneurship in schools to encourage people to start their own businesses was also in Mr brown’s plans if elected.

He said the transport infrastructure in the town was “rotten” and needed improvement as well as promoting freight links to the airport.

He said: “location , location, location, Doncaster is at the centre of the country we need to put Doncaster on the map”

Labour candidate Ros Jones, who championed her chartered accountant status, said people feel they cannot go out and expand their businesses and this needed to change by giving people skills, access to premises and funds to do so.

She said small businesses in the borough needed to expand and she would be campaigning for more money from Sheffield City Region.

Speaking about children’s services, she raised concerns about wasting money on agency staff and said she wanted to get trade unions working with the council. She said: “It was judged as inadequate on Peter’s watch.”

She added:“I have senior leadership experience in the public and private sector and understand boosting businesses is the key to Doncaster’s regeneration, I have the leadership skills and tenacity to improve the town, your town, my town.”

Conservative candidate Martin Drake said he ran his own businesses and knows about business needs and requirements, he added: “We need the new mayor to listen and be adaptable not stayed in their ways and not dogmatic all the time.

“I have the links to Westminster and pride myself in thinking outside the box.”

Looking at business rater so smaller businesses find it easier to expand and strengthening links with Sheffield City region were also priorities for Mr Drake.

He said: “It’s not just about getting jobs but keeping jobs.”

Spending more on Doncaster market to bring it in line with places like Leeds Christmas market to not only attract residents but people from outside Doncaster was also in Mr Drake’s plans.

Addressing issues surrounding children’s services he said no one wants to work in Doncaster need to change that and that investment in staff give them confidence back make was vital and making people accountable.

He added ”Every child who does not reach their full potential is a child we have let down.”

Tony Ward, Independent, said if elected he would chair an economy strategy board and review business rates and bring them in line with current economic landscape.

Mr Ward said there were 5,000 people that can work but wont’ work in the borough and he would have the courage to start telling them to get a job.

He champoined apprenticeships and said he would sacrifice part of his salary to employ an apprentice in the mayoral office to demonstrate his commitment to the scheme.

Mr Ward was equally as critical of Mr Davies childern’s service record and said four years should have been enough time for Mr Davies to sort children’s services out he said it was about people taking responsibility instead of trying to get one up on each other.

He added: “For 24 years I served my country and understand the power of leadership. I have fought for my country now I want to fight for the people of Doncaster.”

Mary Jackson, Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidate said: “Food banks are springing up and the bedroom tax has hit people can’t even afford to eat.

“I would stop the bedroom tax and start building more council houses which would create jobs and mean fewer people would be claiming benefits, if Doncaster starts building council houses, other councils will follow.”

Bringing back cheap transport and stopping privatisation of services and instead spending money on dealing with them in house was key, said Ms Jackon.

She said if elected she would also launch an internal investigation into what has gone wrong in Children’s Services.

On Thursday May 2 Doncaster’s residents will go to the polls to decide who the Borough’s Elected Mayor will be for the next four years.