Education, jobs and the state of the local economy were among the range of issues candidates for the Hexham constituency faced questions on in Prudhoe at a hustings event on Tuesday night.

The Mayor of Prudhoe, Coun. Tracy Gilmore, asked how the candidates would improve the town in terms of education, youth services, and job prospects if they were elected.

Guy Opperman, the Conservative candidate, pointed to his existing record in the town.

“We rebuilt Prudhoe Community High school to make sure we had a school that was fit for purpose,” he said. “I supported whole-heartedly the schools that were struggling. All of the schools are progressing in an academy system.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Howse of the Liberal Democrats said stopping Brexit would protect jobs.

“Our region is going to be hit harder than any other by Brexit,” he said. “The best way we guarantee that future generations have the same job prospects, the same life chances as us is to make sure that we stay.”

Green Party candidate Nick Morphet said his party would increase funding for schools and reduce class sizes. He added: “We will strengthen the link between schools and communities by bringing all schools back under local authority control.We will create a fully inclusive education system where children with special educational needs are welcomed and supported.”

Labour’s Penny Grennan said Labour would increase the minimum wage and ban zero hours contracts. She added: “Education is suffering. There are staff shortages, children go to school hungry, the curriculum is narrow. All that would be reversed.”

The candidates were also quizzed on the Low Prudhoe development and its potential effects on Front Street.

Mr Opperman said: “I support the Low Prudhoe Development and Front Street. It’s a case of use it our lose it. It requires all of us to shop local and not go to the Metro Centre.”

Mr Howse added: “The council is not supporting the town. We need to get people working together properly. Local people know what local people want.”

Ms Grennan said: “The centre of Hexham is almost dead. It started with Tesco. This has to be done really carefully or your fate will be the same as ours.”

Mr Morphet said: “We will increase government funding to local authorities by £10bn a year and devolve more power.”