It was a full house for the first IW Observer/Island Echo hustings

Bob Seely, Rachel Thacker, Nick Stuart, David Holmes (chairman), Cameron Palin, Ian Pickering, Richard Quigley

It was a close call in the exit poll of first major IW hustings event of the campaign, jointly hosted by the IW Observer and Island Echo at a packed Newport Minster on Wednesday.

Around 300 people attended the event which featured all six candidates for the West Wight, with Labour’s Richard Quigley narrowly edging out former MP Bob Seely by 110 votes to 100.

Candidates were each given three minutes to introduce themselves followed by a list of four pre-arranged questions on ferries, education, the NHS and the environment with two minutes allowed for each response.

Afterwards, the floor was open to questions from the public ranging from ‘Special Needs and Disability’ requirements on the Island, a straight vote on ‘Dignity in Dying’, which had a 50-50 result from the candidates, ‘offshore wind turbines’, ‘promoting shopping and services in our town centres’ and a ‘fixed link’ study.

Mr Quiqley’s responses drew several rounds of applause, while Mr Seely used his seven years in office to show his experience in what he claims to have achieved for the Island.

The evening’s session was introduced by Darren Toogood, editor/publisher of Island Echo, with a rousing welcome from Newport Minster’s Rev Steve Sutcliffe, who said he was pleased to see the Minster being used for the hustings after its refurbishment.

The IW Observer’s columnist, David Holmes, did a professional job chairing the meeting, keeping the answers brief, and moving proceedings on swiftly, although there was some barracking from the audience, and spikey replies from candidates on a couple of the questions, mainly the ferries.

IW Observer editor, Carole Dennett, said: “We thank the candidates for appearing and so many Islanders for turning up. We’ve had some great feedback and we’re looking forward to next week’s meeting for Isle of Wight East, which will be chaired by our sport writer, Richard Priest.”

All the tickets went very quickly, but you will be able to watch it on live-stream on the IW Observer’s Facebook page.

Full exit poll results: 255 votes cast, 13 spoilt: Nick Stuart (Lib Democrats) 8; Cameron Palin (Green) 11; Ian Pickering (Reform UK) 13; Richard Quigley (Labour) 110; Bob Seely (Conservative) 100; Rachel Thacker (Alliance for Democracy and Freedom) 0.

A second hustings, for the fully-booked East Wight, featuring Emily Brothers (Labour), Michael Lilley (Liberal Democrat), Vix Lowthion (Green), Sarah Morris (Reform UK), Joe Robertson (Conservative) and David Groocock (Independent), will be held at Ryde School on Wednesday, 6.30pm start.