SOUTH Somerset residents have quizzed their potential new MPs ahead of what one candidate dubbed “the most important election in a generation”.

All six candidates for the Yeovil constituency assembled at Yeovil Community Church last Monday (November 25) to be grilled by voters before the poll on December 12.

During what turned out to be a generally civil and well-behaved affair, the candidates were probed for two hours on everything from Brexit to adult social care, and from climate change to the housing crisis.

The first two questions of the night concerned Brexit, with candidates being asked whether the current deal being proposed by Boris Johnson was any better than Theresa May’s thrice-rejected offering.

Marcus Fysh (Conservative) – who faced laughter from the floor during his opening statement – said Mrs May’s deal “gave leverage in the future negotiations to the EU in such a massive way”, adding Mr Johnson’s deal was more “balanced” and “set out clearly what the destination is… unrestricted and untaxed trade in goods between the UK and the EU”.

Terry Ledlie (Labour) said his party leader Jeremy Corbyn had been “an honest broker” by remaining neutral on Brexit, saying he will “let the people decide” after a new deal had been negotiated within three months of election.

Diane Wood (Green) said she was “sick to death of hearing about Brexit” and the prolonged process of sorting it out meant people were “forgetting about about the fact that the planet is heading towards a climactic crisis.”

Tony Capozzoli (Independent) said; “The majority voted to leave, to get out with this Brexit. Let’s do it – that’s what I’m here for.”

Mick Clark (Liberal Democrat) said Britain was “stronger and better off within Europe” – though he was not supportive of the ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ slogan his party used in the European Parliament elections in May.

Tom Fox (Constitution and Reform Party) said it was “not possible to get a good answer from a bad question”, describing David Cameron’s actions as “foolish” and said the current political system was “built on sand”.

Several questions were asked about how more housing could be delivered to meet local needs, along with the appropriate infrastructure such as roads, doctors’ surgeries and school places.

Mr Fysh promised “a better deal for renters” and said South Somerset needed “a new, large-ish settlement” on the A303 near RNAS Yeovilton, arguing “bolting on new development to our towns has reached its limit”

But Mr Capozzoli – whose council ward includes RNAS Yeovilton – countered: “It’s not going to happen – because I’m going to make sure it’s not going to happen. Yeovilton doesn’t want it – I worked there, nobody wanted it.”

Mr Clark said we should “invest in our existing towns so our children don’t have to move away” through new council homes and a “deposit loan scheme” to help renters get on the property ladder.

Ms Wood said she was sick of “luxury estates” being built on greenfield sites and then leased at “extortionate rents”, arguing more social housing was needed urgently.

Mr Ledlie promised a “landlords’ MOT” to ensure houses were properly kept up, adding: “We need to make sure that we are not building new houses for private renters to exploit people”.

Mr Fox – who has worked on building sites for the last five years – said house-builders were prepared for all eventualities, quipping: “If only our politicians were like that.”

Local transport became a big talking point, particularly around the future of local bus services and encouraging more people to walk and cycle.

Mr Capozzoli said he was fighting for new cycle routes around Yeovil, stating: “It is all to do with funding. If we can open some of the routes up within our countryside, wouldn’t that be lovely?”

Mr Clark said there had to be “a big push to reduce car travel” in south Somerset, pledging to introduce network-wide bus ticketing, restore cut routes and add new ones “where there is local need”.

Mr Fox criticised the government’s removal of subsidies for solar panels, saying: “It comes back to the government not doing things.”

Mr Fysh – who drives an electric car – said Britain had “made rapid progress” to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, adding: “I think in the future the sharing of electricity which is stored in batteries is going to be a major part of our peak-load provision.”

Mr Ledlie said Labour would create one million jobs in the “green revolution” and would reintroduce bus routes which had been cut since 2010.

Ms Wood said more investment was needed in green transport, such as electric buses, stating: “It is ridiculously expensive to travel by bus at the moment. We need not just the transport, but transport which is subsidised so it is actually affordable.”

With all the major parties promising more money for the NHS, voters asked how this would be spent and how access to GPs would be improved.

Mr Clark – who used to work for the ambulance service – said the Lib Dems would raise £7bn a year by putting 1p on income tax (ringfenced for health and social care), and would “support healthcare professionals to work together” to ensure staff were retained.

Mr Fox said Mr Johnson’s pledge to deliver 40 new UK hospitals was “a horrendous lie”, adding; “I cannot see, with the epidemic corruption in our political system, that there is going to be this money to spend anyway.”

Mr Fysh said the Tories would spend £34bn a year more on the NHS by 2023/24, restore the nursing bursary and reform how the NHS was managed, saying: “You have to have a strong economy in order to afford high-quality public services.”

Mr Ledlie said Labour would “ensure that everybody that worked in the NHS was employed by the NHS”, stopping private companies from suing the health service and preventing further privatisation.

Ms Wood said the NHS should not be a “bargaining chip” for trade deals, adding doctors felt “frustrated” and were “not being listened to” because of long hours, needless paperwork and unhelpful management.

Mr Capozzoli said it was important to “get the NHS back on track and get our surgeries back in the villages.”

Polling stations will be open on December 12 between 7am and 10pm.