A PROMISE to redefine the city’s view of “affordable homes” as a step towards solving the housing crisis was among ideas proposed at The Argus Debate last night.

The Conservative, Green, and Liberal Democrat candidates for the vacant East Brighton council seat also crossed swords over recycling, bus routes, healthcare, and immigration during the Brighton Racecourse hustings.

The absence of Labour candidate Nancy Platts was the subject of repeated barbs from candidates and the 100-strong audience.

Challenged to come up with a specific policy to ease the housing crisis, Green candidate Ed Baker said we should change our definition of affordable.

It is currently 80 per cent of market rates, which he said was unaffordable in Brighton. He suggested instead following Shelter’s lead of defining it as 25 to 35 per cent of the salary of someone earning the £9 Living Wage.

Meanwhile 18-year-old Lib Dem candidate George Taylor said he was proud to have been part of the campaign to ask the Labour administration to stick to its 40 per cent target and 21-year-old Conservative Ed Wilson opened his answer with: “It’s pretty simple: we should build affordable housing.”

He was keen to speak in general terms about the possibilities open to him as working as part of the Conservative group – “we’re a team” was a constant refrain – and about the Conservative Party’s alleged strengths at securing value for money.

George Taylor was less strong on policy detail but big on optimism and keen to stress that just because he would be the council’s only Lib Dem – and its youngest member – he would be able to “make plenty of noise.”

Green candidate Ed Baker was forensic, with a mastery of policy detail which clearly impressed the dozen elected councillors and former councillors in the room.

Audience member David Lloyd asked the panel what they would do about the city’s poor recycling rates.

George Taylor spoke about a Lib Dem pledge to provide recycling bins for schools.

Ed Baker said the staffing shortages at Cityclean needed to be addressed.

Tory Ed Wilson pointed out rates were lower under the Green administration and warned not to trust Mr Baker.

A lively audience peppered the three young men with questions for more than an hour before chairman Professor Ivor Gaber drew proceedings to a close.