Pubdate: Sat, 23 Apr 2005
Source: Eastern Daily Press (UK)
Copyright: 2005, Archant Regional
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance


Candidates from across the political spectrum faced first-time voters at a 
special hustings in Norwich this afternoon.

The event at City College Norwich brought together six of the eight 
candidates for Norwich South.

Education dominated the agenda in the debate, which was organised by the 
college and student union, and hosted by UK Youth Parliament members Shane 
Frank and Thiabault Jeakings.

Tamzin Cloak challenged the candidates over the AS and A2 level 
qualifications, saying her teachers had criticised them as "a bureaucratic 
waste of time".

Liberal Democrat candidate Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne and Tory candidate 
Antony Little -- both teachers -- agreed with the description.

Mr Aalders-Dunthorne called for a more modular system and Mr Little said AS 
should be scrapped.

"It should be scrapped not just because it's bureaucratic but because it's 
so stressful," he said.

Former education secretary and Labour candidate Charles Clarke said he 
"half agreed" that there is too much paperwork but said the system's 
flexibility had benefited students.

During questions on differences in funding between schools and colleges and 
pay disparity for teachers and further education lecturers, Legalise 
Cannabis Alliance candidate Don Barnard said his party's policy would free 
up more cash.

"All these things need support and they would get more cash by legalising 
cannabis. It could bring in millions of pounds in tax that could pay for 
all these things," he said.

The candidates were also challenged on rising visa fees for international 
students, a measure introduced by Mr Clarke.

UK Independence Party candidate Vandra Ahlstrom said: "There should be more 
equality for students from all countries rather than a EU power block that 
acts like a old man's club and benefits some countries and not others."

Green Party candidate Adrian Ramsay added: "We all benefit from having 
students from all over the world studying with us."

Following the event, the candidates mingled with audience members in the 
student union bar.

Student Megan Loynes said she had not been swayed by the arguments.

"I supported Labour before and I still, partly from by parents' views. I 
think Labour are more for my class of people on the whole."

But Kate Curtis had been persuaded: "I've always quite liked the Liberal 
Democrats but I'm coming around to the Greens."

Ben Gotts, who lives at Cromer, said: "I've done some work for Norman Lamb 
in North Norfolk, but I was very impressed by Charles Clarke."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom