Andrew Pope, Southampton Independents Candidate for Southampton Test at the 2017 General Election, has issued the following announcement:
"Regretfully, I have informed the organiser of tonight's hustings at Southampton University, the Southampton Debating Union, that I will not be attending.
I have not come to this decision lightly, but I have consulted others in Southampton Independents, and Southampton residents.
We face a very serious situation, where our democracy is under threat by terrorists. Terrorists that have grown up in our own country.
In the last year, we have had a Leeds MP murdered in broad daylight.
We have had a Southampton councillor suffering a paving slab thrown through their home window. This led to a tightening of security relating to Southampton councillors.
A terrorist has attacked the Palace of Westminster and killed members of the public and a policeman.
And less than three days ago, we have had children and adults murdered indiscriminately in Manchester by a suicide bomber.
Therefore I have decided to not attend tonight's hustings for three main reasons:
1. If last night's hustings was postponed, which it was, it is also too soon today to hold a hustings.
2. Having asked what has changed about the security at tonight's hustings following the Manchester attack, my Election Agent learned that little had changed. Other events have tightened security, but not this one.
For example, the arrangements for the Southampton Election Count have changed as follows:
"Following discussions with Cabinet Office and Electoral Commission after the tragic event in Manchester earlier this week, the Returning Officer has decided to upgrade security at the count on 8th June. "
3. I will not put members of the public in danger at a public event that has inadequate security. It is better to be safe than sorry, Let us not forget that the threat level is now Critical, the highest level. Armed police are patrolling Southampton.
I am working with Hampshire Police and Southampton City Council to secure such a time. Sadly, I do not feel we are at that point now.
I will continue to work for our full democracy and full public safety to return."
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