THE candidates vying to win the super marginal seat of Dudley North were put through their paces by pupils as the general election campaign gathers pace.

Students at Beacon Hill Academy grilled the parliamentary hopefuls at the hustings, the only such event taking place in the constituency, on Tuesday, December 3.

Melanie Dudley for Labour, Liberal Democrat Ian Flynn and Mike Harrison for the Green Party were joined by Councillor Shaun Keasey who stood in for Conservative candidate Marco Longhi who had to pull out of the event due to illness.

Students at the Sedgley school questioned the candidates on mental health provision, university tuition fees, lowering the voting age to 16, spending on youth services and Brexit.

Setting out their pitches, Ms Dudley called on her knowledge of the area and her desire to "payback" to her community.

She said: "I had a good career and I want that for you too. I want you to have what I have had, I want to be for the many not the few."

Ian Flynn, who is from Solihull and now lives in the borough, said: "Speaking to people in Dudley North, the issues for them are funding for police and health services and the vitality of our high streets."

He said his party would tackle youth homelessness and revoke article 50 to stop Brexit.

Mike Harrison, who moved to the West Midlands from New Zealand, said: "I want you to think about the place you want to live in when you grow up. We need to put a handbrake on our contribution to global warming."

Cllr Shaun Keasey pointed to Mr Longhi's experience in politics as a councillor in Walsall and former mayor.

Each candidate backed more funding for mental health provision for young people in Dudley and called for an end to ten years of austerity so that more money can be spent on youth services in Dudley.

When asked about their position on more spending for local services, Cllr Keasey said he thought the "wrong decisions" had been made and that more money should be made available for local authorities.

Ms Dudley branded cuts as '"fundamentally wrong" and Mr Harrison told the youngsters: "Councils would love to spend more on you, we need to ask who is hoovering up all the money?"

University tuitions proved a key topic for the audience, with each candidates asked what their plans were for fees.

Mr Flynn said he regretted that young people leave university with high debts- a measure brought in by the Liberal Democrat backed Coalition government in 2010- and said he was personally in favour of replacing fees with a tax.

Ms Dudley and Mr Harrison said they would abolish tuition fees, while Cllr Keasey asked where the money would come from to scrap tuition costs.

Setting out their Brexit positions, Ms Dudley said Labour would negotiate a new deal with the EU before putting it to a public vote; Mr Flynn said his party would revoke article 50; Mr Harrison called for a people's vote and the EU to be reformed while Cllr Keasey said Brexit needed to be done.

Cllr Shaun Keasey said that "Dudley will carry on doing what Dudley does" in the event of Brexit and slammed "scaremongering nonsense".

Ms Dudley blasted Boris Johnson's deal as offering no workers rights or environmental protections and said her party would renegotiate a "better" deal with Europe.

Mr Flynn- who backs stopping Brexit in a seat that voted heavily in favour of leaving the EU- said there are plenty of people in Dudley who wish to remain and that people who voted leave should be allowed to change their minds in another vote.

All eyes will be on Dudley North when voters take to the polls on December 22 as the seat was won by Labour in 2017 by just 22 votes.