CURRENT and would-be councillors who braved York's voters of the future at a lively question and answer session today hailed the event a success.

The Evening Press organised session, or hustings, was held at Oaklands School, Acomb.

It saw a group of Year 11 students pose questions on a wide range of subjects 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 candidate Eddie Vee.

Coun Galloway said the students showed a lot of self confidence and had a strong interest in local affairs.

"That is good news for the future," he said.

Coun Looker said: "I thought it went extremely well. The kids warmed up well and were prepared to hold a forceful discussion on genuine local issues."

Coun Galvin said: "It was a very good event. The kids had plenty to say and made some good points."

Mr Collingwood said: "It was a very useful experience, particularly taking into account the political activity students have shown recently in the anti-war campaign." Mr Chase said: "I thought it was a marvellous idea and I really enjoyed it. It isn't something that has been done in previous elections but I hope there are more in the future."

"It was brilliant, the reaction from the kids was great," added Mr Vee.

One student at Friday's event, 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 is 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: 17:14 Tuesday, April 15, 2003