The week of 11th March was a fraught one in Parliament for Department of Work and Pensions Minister and Hastings & Rye MP Amber Rudd  – see our political pages for more coverage. However it started with an on-the-record interview by a group of five East Sussex College Creative Media students, who travelled to her Westminster office on the Monday to quiz her on a range of issues and put her responses on film.

PICTURE: Jake Bowers

Questioned by student Steven Lewis with regard to the pier, she said she was “really disappointed” at the closure. “What I am most concerned about is getting it re-opened, and making sure it’s free for everybody to go on  – that’s what I’m continuing to push for”. 

Cannabis legalisation? She was against it, other than for medicinal purposes. “I don’t think it helps young people in terms of their life choices”. However she regarded her opposition as “evidence-based”, and suggested that proponents of legalisation should seek further evidence from countries that have legalised.

On homelessness the Minister claimed that measures which the government had been taking were “beginning to work”, with figures down this year after four or five years going up. She told the questioner that one third of the people currently sleeping rough in London are from the European Union, with the unstated implication that a post-Brexit regime would change that.

Another student Leo Jackson took the former climate change minister to task on a range of environmental issues ranging from plastics in the sea (“she quickly removed her plastic cup from the table after I raised that issue,” said Leo) to what she thought of school kids in Hastings going on strike over climate change. She said she felt things were being nudged
in the right direction by a combination of voluntary action and government legislation. But as to the school  strike she struck an approving note:
“I like seeing kids getting involved – and I like them stepping up and saying that adults need to do something about climate change”. Fracking was not mentioned.

Finally there was a question from a Romanian student, Mihai. “Shouldn’t we just cancel Brexit?” No, was the answer. Although she had campaigned “very hard” for Remain, she had also pledged to deliver the referendum result. However “the type of Brexit I want”, she declared, will protect Mihai’s rights, and also protect businesses “as far as possible”.

The Hastings students were selected from a class of 30 on the popular Visual Effects and Creative Media Production course at the college’s Parker Road campus. They were gathering footage for documentaries they are currently making on subjects ranging from the ownership of Hastings Pier to homelessness, cannabis legalisation, global warming and student debt. When finished, the documentaries will make up their coursework and be available to view online on the HIP website.

Creative Media lecturer and former BBC journalist Jake Bowers organised the trip for his students to demonstrate how becoming a journalist can get you access to the heart of the corridors of power. “The students were amazed to be entering the now highly secure Palace of Westminster on the day before the last dramatic meaningful Brexit vote. Whilst not agreeing with all the answers Amber Rudd gave them, they were amazed at the access which a broadcast-quality camera and enquiring mind can get you.”

A five-minute edit of the interview can be watched now on the HIP Facebook site.
To study Creative Media Production at East Sussex College, email [email protected]

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