Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham Max Wilkinson has questioned Tory MP Alex Chalk's voting record on climate change after a debate with Cheltenham school pupils.
Max and Mr Chalk debated the issue and took questions from students as part of Vision 21’s Climate Emergency Question Time at St Andrew’s Church in Cheltenham on Friday.
During the course of the debate, Max was surprised to hear Mr Chalk's answers about what needs to be done to tackle the climate emergency, given his record in parliament for voting against green policies.
Speaking after the debate, he said: “If I didn’t know better, based on what he said today, I’d think Alex Chalk was a leading figure in the climate change movement.
“In reality, since he was elected, he has voted to cut support for renewable energies, increase tax on green initiatives and even to enable fracking.
“To make things worse, at one point he bemoaned the fact that people on low incomes found it hard to take part in the fight against climate change because they didn’t have enough money.
“Of course, it was Chalk who voted to freeze welfare benefits for the poorest families.
“I am more motivated than ever to become Cheltenham’s next MP so that we have someone in Parliament who represents our town’s best interests – and our planet’s too.”
The debate was attended by around 100 students from seven Cheltenham schools: Bournside, Balcarras, Cheltenham Ladies' College, Cheltenham College, Pate’s Grammar, Pittville and Dean Close.
Max and Mr Chalk were joined on the debating panel by Lib Dem MEP Martin Horwood, Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato and Cheltenham Labour activist George Penny.
The debate, organised by Gloucestershire sustainability charity Vision 21, was chaired by Professor Janet Dwyer, Countryside and Community Research Institute director.
Max added: “I would like to thank Vision 21 for organising a very engaging event on an incredibly important issue facing us all.
“The questions from students were searching and made for a really stimulating debate. So I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to every student who attended on the day.”
Earlier this month, the Lib Dem-run administration on Cheltenham Borough Council passed a report outlining its plan to make the town carbon neutral by 2030.
The report followed the declaration of a climate emergency by the council earlier this year.
Max, who is also a councillor for Oakley ward, received unanimous backing for a motion to declare the climate emergency in February.
He held a public meeting at the Municipal Offices on the Promenade in August inviting the local community to contribute their ideas to the council report.