QUESTIONS ranging from “criminalising” squatters to the Paralympic Games provided a topical and newsy evening for BBC panellists at Hebden Bridge Town Hall.
The weekly Radio 4 programme Any Questions? was broadcast live from the venue’s new Waterfront Hall, with Jonathan Dimbleby chairing a panel that included former Conservative Minister Edwina Currie.
The other guests were Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin; journalist and chief executive of gay equality body Stonewall, Ben Summerskill; and TV presenter and chief political columnist for The Independent, Steve Richards.
The panel fielded six questions in a lively debate in which the guests gave their opinions on whether the Paralympics would change perceptions of disabled people in the UK and whether it was fair that hundreds of non-EU students faced deportation due to the crisis facing London Metropolitan University.
On the issue of squatters, Mrs Currie - who has written 10 books and starred in a number of TV reality shows, including Strictly Come Dancing - said people had worked hard for their properties but that “changing the law in a sledgehammer way may not be necessary”.
Ben Summerskill said it was “a tiny part of a really serious problem - that is, a lack of housing provision”. His views were echoed by Minette Marrin, who said the lack of affordable housing was a “national disaster”.
Sean Fowler, who runs his independent financial advice business from one of the new offices at the town hall, asked the panel whether they felt wealth creators should be encouraged rather than having to shoulder a greater tax burden.
He said afterwards: “I thought it was a very lively event and my question was well answered. Ben Summerskill answered the questions very effectively and was very witty”.