ROAD humps, crime and congestion charges were all on the agenda when voters of the future grilled politicians of the present at a York school election hustings event.

The Evening Press-organised question-and-answer session, was held at Oaklands School, Acomb.

A group of Year 11 students put questions to Liberal Democrat leader Steve Galloway, Conservative leader John Galvin, Labour executive member for education Janet Looker, Green Party candidate Andy Chase, Socialist Alliance candidate Andrew Collingwood, and Monster Raving Loony hopeful Eddie Vee.

Student Mark Benton asked about congestion charges.

Coun Looker said she was not aware of any party with plans to introduce the charges to York, but said parties were interested to see how the charging in London worked.

Kelly Aitken asked for statistics showing that road humps cut speed or road accidents.

Coun Galloway said Gale Lane, Acomb, had seen three fatal accidents before humps were built - but none since.

Coun Galvin said: "I hate road humps, but unfortunately it is a fact of life that the only way to slow traffic is to put an obstacle in its way."

Becky Hedderick asked candidates their plans for cutting crime.

Coun Galloway pointed to the Lib Dem promise to introduce young peoples' drop-in centres and called for increased interaction between the police and community ranger patrols.

"People should be able to be more confident the police will answer when a resident rings. Sometimes the response is extremely delayed."

Mr Collingwood said: "We need to look at the causes. More equality in society would result in a cut in crime."

Mr Vee said: "The punishment should fit the crime. If a vandal throws a stone off a bridge, then throw the vandal off the bridge too."

Coun Looker said education was the key.

"We need to show people life has more opportunities to offer than crime does."

Coun Galvin said: "Punishment needs to be sharp and short. If individuals can be prevented from going to prison by a clip around the ear from society, that is far better than six months inside."

Mr Chase said: "Community policing can have a real effect on crime."

Changes in the prison system were needed, as it was not reforming and rehabilitating offenders effectively, Mr Chase added.

Updated: 09:23 Saturday, April 12, 2003