On June 23 the UK will vote on whether to leave or remain in the European Union – a referendum which has been described as the most important in our lifetimes.
We asked Ashfield’s political leaders what they thought about the impending elections and went out and about in Kirkby town centre to see how our readers felt.
Politicians in the main - particularly Labour were in favour of staying.
But our straw poll revealed the mainstream feeling among the general populace was decidedly more Eurosceptic
Amongst those who are planning to vote to stay in the EU is Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero.
She said: “I will be voting for Britain to stay in the EU for two main reasons – jobs and workers’ rights.
“The UK economy is stronger for us being part of the European Union, so leaving it would put thousands of jobs at risk and hit trade.
“We also all benefit from some of the basic workers’ rights that the EU has protected, such as paid holiday, maternity leave and equal pay laws.”
“It can be difficult to see the relevance of the EU to everyday life in Ashfield, but between 2007 and 2013, Ashfield received £1.4 million to fund development projects, invest in businesses, create jobs and support agriculture.
“The district council spent half a million pounds of this on training programmes for people starting new businesses, while another £60,000 was used to fund the Aim Higher scheme, which links undergraduates with local employers.
“More than £400,000 of EU money has also funded the redevelopment of Kirkby town centre.
“EU funding is vital for the jobs market in this area. If we were to leave, a vital stream of funding would be cut off overnight.”
Ashfield District Council Leader Cheryl Butler is also in the remain camp. She said: “I think it will be quite close especially in Ashfield . I worry about the undermining of workers’ rights, maternity and paternity pay and especially the trade union bill and the European Bill of Human Rights. I don’t think it is perfect but we should be in it to change it.
Kirky Councillor Jim Aspinall said: ”I could be the only person in the council who voted in 1975. I voted out then as I couldn’t see the benefit apart from trade. As the EU has developed it has become a more social organisation and has implemented many of the laws that protect the interests of workers.
“I don’t believe that by coming out those will be protected. My overwhelming reason for supporting remain is that because of the creation of the EU there has been no war in Europe for 70 years. I consider the EU to be a small price for peace in Europe.”
Councillor Mick Murphy is voting to leave .
He said; “I wasn’t old enough to get the vote the first time round. Over time the goalposts have moved from the original nine countries up to 29 countries with a further three ready to join.
“I feel some of the countries who want to join have nothing to offer - they are people you wouldn’t go into business with.
“Whether rightly or wrongly we have been given conflicting stories on which way to vote . I am voting for my grandson - I think it will be a critical vote and everyone should take part who can vote and use their opinion.”
Selston Councillor Sam Wilson said he had not made his mind up. He said: “I am 50-50 at the moment but becoming more ‘come out’ every day. I think there will be more information to come out closer to the day.”
Market trader Linda Walling said: “I don’t think any of this will make any difference whether we are in or out. I don’t think I will be voting because I don’t think my vote will matter any way.”
Maurice and Ann Marriott, of Kirkby, said they were both in the Brexit camp.
Mr Marriott, 62 said: “Nearly everyone in Kirkby I talk to wants out. We are paying £350 million a week and how much do we get back?
“Every time we get money back we have to fight for it.
“France and Germany are sitting pretty because they run it.”
Beth Sanderson, 22, of Kirkby said; “I think we should leave - all the money we pump into the EU would be better spent on the NHS.
“I understand we have to help other countries but we need to look after our own first.”
John Sankey, 61, of Kirkby said: “I think we should stop in because of the uncertainty. If we left nobody knows what would happen. It is easier to move in to Europe to retire now.
“If we come out all those resident in another European country for less than six years could be kicked out.
“There are reciprocal health agreements but once we are out insurance costs will go up.”
Anthony Summerly, 28, of Kirkby said: “I am 50/50. A lot of my family are in the EU and if we leave things will all be different. But I object to all the immigration - a lot of people are coming here and getting everything given to them.”