SWINDON’S Conservative candidates have been slammed for failing to take part in campaign events ahead of Thursday’s general election.

Hustings organised by Keep Our NHS Public and environmental groups including Extinction Rebellion have gone ahead without Robert Buckland or Justin Tomlinson showing up.

In addition, the Fair Funding For All Schools Swindon campaign expressed disappointment that neither the North nor South Swindon candidate would sign a pledge to ensure better school funding post-election.

Schools campaigner Jon Timbrell said: “The lack of engagement on the crucial issue of school funding has been really disappointing.

“Candidates across party lines have signed the pledge to fix school funding, but not our two current MPs.

“Over the last two years, our group has arranged several hustings and public meetings. We’ve had fantastic take up from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party candidates and activists, but the Conservatives have yet to send a representative to a single one of our events.

“The truth is, education is being run in to the ground by chronic under-funding and no matter if they agree of disagree with parents and teachers, our local MPs should be at least engaging and debating with us.”

John Ranford of Extinction Rebellion Swindon helped organise a climate hustings.

He said: “After lengthy to-ing and fro-ing with telephone tag, the Conservatives came back saying neither Justin Tomlinson or Robert Buckland could find the time. We decided to go ahead anyway, but this is a sad day for democracy.”

Chair of Keep Our NHS Public Samantha Walthen said: “Neither Conservative MP has attended any of our events, despite being invited on several occasions.

“We are made up of people from all political persuasions and seek only a properly-funded and publicly-provided NHS.

“Attempting to deflect attention from his lack of engagement with local NHS issues, as Justin Tomlinson has done in labelling us as ‘a Labour organisation’ would seem an excuse, as other candidates were very happy to attend and express their views.

“It seems more likely that a public representative of the government is either unwilling or unable to defend their government’s record on this issue.”

Mr Tomlinson claimed he was not invited to the climate hustings.

He said: “We are rightly delivering record health and schools funding, paid for by a strong economy which is at risk if a Jeremy Corbyn hard-left anti-jobs government comes into power.”

Mr Buckland said: “I was delighted to take part in the hustings at the Royal Oak in Bishopstone and the Swindon Advertiser’s joint hustings with the BBC last week.

“On both occasions, I was very happy to answer questions about both the NHS and the huge importance of climate change and the Conservatives’ pledge to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.

“In the final few days of my campaign, I will be concentrating almost every moment on what I have been doing since I was first selected as south Swindon’s Conservative candidate in 2004 - knocking as many doors and meeting as many people as possible to ask them to vote Conservative on Thursday.”