Voters from Erith and Thamesmead are upset their hustings event, due to take place on Sunday (May 5), was cancelled at the last minute.

Issues arose after the head boy at Trinity School, Belvedere, Eliot Smith, who is a Bexley youth councillor and Conservative campaigner and therefore not politically impartial, was chosen to chair the evening.

Sponsors Silon 7 cancelled after its lawyers suggested the event could be grounds for legal action.

Conservative candidate Anna Firth said: “It’s a bit of a mystery and a great shame that democracy did not prevail in Erith and Thamemead.”

Ms Frith and Labour candidate Teresa Pearce still attended, and answered questions from the 10 residents who were there.

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Pearce (left) and Firth (right) discuss local issues. Pic: Brian Barnett

Ms Frith added: “It’s not the candidates’ fault it got cancelled.”

Thamesmead resident Brian Barnett said: “I was a bit upset because I was really looking forward to the hustings.

“I would have liked it if the other candidates turned up as well.”

Teresa Pearce rejected claims that she had called for the event to be cancelled, saying: “We just wanted the opportunity to have a hustings. Any chair is better than no chair.”

18-year-old Mr Smith said: “Teresa Pearce made a valid comment saying she thought it could be biased.

“Other people started sticking their oar in.

"It's not like I could pick and choose questions.

“My stand was - ‘Are you going to make a fuss or do you want to hold a hustings event?’

“It would have been lovely to have a hustings event for the community.”


A Link Thamesmead spokesman said: “It is with regret that Silon7 Limited will no longer be in a position to sponsor this meeting.

“Silon7’s only intention through Erith Link was to provide an opportunity for them to question candidates.

“Silon7 would like to thank Eliot Smith for his hard work and commend his restraint in the face of some very personal attacks in his role of trying to make this event happen.

“I can assure everyone Eliot’s only motive has been only to see voters have the opportunity to question candidates not to influence this event in any way.”