CANDIDATES fighting to become the next MP for Poole faced tough questions about the future of the country at a hustings event this week.

Brexit, NHS, the economy and education were just some of the topics raised at the meeting.

As well as questions about why Poole continues to be ranked as one of the lowest authorities when it comes to local government spending and the effect it is having on services such as public toilets.

Around 150 people gathered at St James’ Church in Poole to listen to what the five candidates vying for the Poole constituency had to say.

One of the issues on everyone’ mind this election - Brexit - led to a mixture of responses from the panel.

The Green Party candidate Adrian Oliver said that he had voted to leave the EU based on the sovereignty argument. He added: “While we are brining sovereignty back we are not bringing the power. We are still being controlled by fear and a corporate agenda.”

Meanwhile Labour’s Katie Taylor said a “good Brexit” would be one where the UK approached the EU as a partner rather than in a “bullish” manner.

She also criticised Theresa May asking how “strong and stable” she really was. “If she doesn’t get a big enough majority she says she won’t be able to persuade the House of Commons or the Lords,” added Ms Taylor.

Marty Caine, of The Collective Thinking Party of Britain, said: “It’s important to remember that when we leave the EU we are not leaving 27 countries but opening ourselves up to the world.”

But Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Plummer said remaining part of the EU was “very important to the survival and prosperity of the UK.”

Incumbent Conservative candidate Robert Syms said the government would face a “difficult time frame”. He added: “We need to have a smooth exit which will be both beneficial to us and the EU.”

The future of the NHS has become a contentious topic locally - particularly plans to disband Poole Hospital’s A&E department. All the candidates agreed the NHS should continue as a free service - but nearly all agreed there was room for reform.

Mr Caine said it was time for political parties to “stop throwing money” at the NHS and instead” fix it”.

Meanwhile Mr Syms said certain lifestyle choices were to blame for the current state of the service as the “NHS has to pick up the bill”.

Mr Plummer heavily criticised Jeremy Hunt and the current government’s policy. He said: “Mr Hunt has picked a fight with doctors and nurses and they are leaving in droves.”

Mr Oliver said the NHS was “so far from where it should be”. And Ms Taylor said the main problem was “underfunding” and lack of government support.