STOURBRIDGE Conservative candidate Suzanne Webb has defended her decision not to attend tonight's public hustings.

All candidates standing in the December 12 General Election have been invited to attend the event organised by Stourbridge Churches Together, taking place at St Thomas's Church in Market Street from 7pm.

The News understands all candidates have pledged to attend - except Ms Webb, who is favourite to win the seat left vacant following the resignation of former MP Margot James.

Liberal Democrat candidate Chris Bramall said: "I think she's doing a Johnson on us all by not coming. Maybe she doesn't want to face the voters or maybe she's got a funeral in Australia.

"Are we having an empty chair or alternatively a Conservative melting ice sculpture?

"I might be doing her an injustice. What alternative engagement has more impact than the opportunity to meet a public audience in Stourbridge?"

Independent candidate Aaron Hudson added: "I think it's disgusting. Given that's she is expected to win, it's a really poor show."

The organisers told the News the Tory campaigner from Sutton Coldfield, who was selected to stand for Stourbridge in early November, had sent her apologies and that she would send in written statements to questions which can be read out at the event and Ms Webb told us she was "incredibly disappointed" to have to miss the event.

She explained: "It's a short campaign. It hasn't really allowed any flexibility. They only offered one date and I'd already got a commitment for tonight."

She said she would be at a meeting at Christ Church in Lye and that she would be attending a hustings at King Edward VI College next week.

Doors open at 6.30pm tonight (Tuesday December 3) and the public hustings event is free to attend.