Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Steve Coogan with Labour's Peter Chowney in the town centre (photo: Alan Roberts Photography).

Steve Coogan with Labour’s Peter Chowney in the town centre (photo: Alan Roberts Photography).

Hart in hot water at hustings while Corbyn pays a visit

As the general election campaign enters its final phase, Tory candidate Sally-Ann Hart has found herself in hot water over her apparent support for a suggestion that disabled people should be paid less than the minimum wage. Meanwhile Labour’s Peter Chowney has had party leader Jeremy Corbyn and actor Steve Coogan in town supporting his campaign. The Lib Dems blame government policies for the high rate of small business failures in the last three years. Nick Terdre reports.

At last Thursday’s hustings Tory candidate Sally-Ann Hart was booed and criticised by sections of the audience when she defended her support for an article which suggested that some disabled people should be paid less than the minimum wage.

“Some people with learning difficulties, they don’t understand about money,” she said. “It is about having a therapeutic exemption, and the article was in support of employing people with learning disabilities.” She urged her questioners to read the article.

Labour’s candidate Peter Chowney said it was disgraceful “that people with physical disabilities or neuro-diversity should be paid less than others.”

Sally-Ann Hart on the stump.

Sally-Ann Hart on the stump.

The article, published in The Spectator in 2017, reportedly referred to a ‘therapeutic exemption’ to the minimum wage to help people with learning disabilities find and maintain work.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I was trying to emphasise that more needs to be done to help those with learning disabilities into the workplace and having properly paid work,” Hart said later in a statement on her Facebook page. “I did not say anyone should be paid less.

“My comments have been taken out of context, but I do apologise if any offence or alarm has been caused. The number of disabled people in work has hit a record high under this government, and I am committed to doing more to supporting those with learning disabilities into good, secure jobs.”

Trainees from Little Gate Farm – adults with learning disabilities – invited her to visit the farm in Beckley to see “the work training we do to get into paid employment. Sometimes people don’t realise the potential of people with learning disabilities, but Little Gate Farm is here in East Sussex to help them get paid jobs.”

“If the amount of work you put in amounts to minimum wage whether you have a learning disability or not, you should get minimum wage,” they said.

According to The Guardian, Hart is being investigated by the Conservative Party for alleged anti-semitism – sharing a “video with an image implying that the billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, controls the EU.” She also liked a Nazi slogan on Facebook, the report alleged. Hart was invited to comment on these matters.

JC with Robinsons 310

Jeremy Corbyn with James and Peter Robinson of Surviving the Streets UK.

Corbyn and Coogan in town

Meanwhile Chowney hosted Jeremy Corbyn last week. The Labour leader addressed a rally of party members and took a short walk-about in the town centre, where he met James and Peter Robinson, who founded the Surviving the Streets charity for the homeless.

Chowney’s campaign got a further boost with a visit from actor and writer Steve Coogan, who was promoting tactical voting. Chowney had previously been endorsed by The People’s Vote as the best placed candidate to unseat the Tories as part of their tactical voting initiative.

Small businesses hard hit

Small businesses have been hard hit since the Brexit vote, according to the Liberal Democrats. Between 2016 and 2018, 985 small businesses in Hastings borough closed, a 16.6% increase over the number in 2013-15, they say. On a national scale, one million businesses failed in 2016-18, an increase of one third on the previous three years. The statistics on closures are taken from ONS Business Demography 2018.

Susan Stoodley.

Susan Stoodley.

The party says it would put in place a package of measures to support small businesses and boost high streets, including requiring Government agencies and larger firms to sign up to a new, enforceable, prompt payment code, creating a new start-up allowance for new businesses, and expanding the Future High Streets Fund.

“Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have failed small businesses in Hastings and St Leonards, saddling them with years of Brexit uncertainty and ignoring urgent calls to reform business rates,” said Susan Stoodley, Lib Dem campaigner for the Gensing ward.

“Now Boris Johnson wants to plunge small businesses into even more uncertainty and worry by pursuing a Brexit plan that risks yet another No Deal cliff edge in December 2020. They have lost any right to call themselves the party of business.”

Parliamentary candidate Nick Perry added: “The Liberal Democrats will rescue our high streets and boost local businesses by stopping Brexit, scrapping outdated business rates and introducing more support for entrepreneurs.”


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Posted 09:04 Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019 In: Election 2019

1 Comment

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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    This election is becoming very nasty indeed – Corbyn has been accused of anti semitism, supporting terrorists at various events…and now Sally Ann Hart is being accused of declaring that people with learning disabilities should not receive a living wage. Sally Ann Hart shared an article with Rosa Monkton in 2017 and as most will know Rosa Monkton has a lovely daughter who has Downs Syndrome…this article did not say people with disabilities should not receive a living wage…it has been taken totally out of context. The other accusations are yet to be proved.
    We now have the local Labour party inviting all manner of anti Tory entertainers to come down here in an endeavour to influence the voters.. I for one cannot wait for it all to be over…but remain very concerned that the far left will gain even more power in our town. This will mean Hastings is totally Labour dominated and this cannot be a good thing for democracy.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019 @ 10:08

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