STAR readers are being invited to quiz under-fire Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as he takes part in his first major public debate in Sheffield.
The Lib Dem leader and Sheffield Hallam MP will hold an exclusive question-and-answer session, hosted by The Star, on Monday.
He wants to hear what people in South Yorkshire really think about the coalition Government’s first year in charge, plans for the future of the country and his party.
And for an hour you, the readers, will be in charge.
Mr Clegg said: “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to answer people’s questions. I’ve taken a lot of flak over the last few months, not least in Sheffield, but I’ve never hidden away. I want to talk to people, hear their concerns and explain what is happening and why.
“These are tough times, but the Government is doing a lot of very positive things for people in Sheffield and around the country while at the same time clearing up the mess left us by Labour.”
Mr Clegg came under particular fire after agreeing to a rise in student tuition fees having signed a pledge opposing such an increase prior to the election.
He wrote to his MPs saying that he had “struggled endlessly” with the issue and said that departing from the pre-election pledge would be “one of the most difficult decisions of my political career”.
A report by the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee was also particularly critical of Mr Clegg’s justification for cancelling an £80m industrial loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.
The high-profile debate comes as Sheffield Council proposes to make £84 million of cuts over the coming year, with plans to raise parking charges, hit policing and the possible closure of Graves Art Gallery.
Because of its large public sector workforce, many fear South Yorkshire will be among the regions hit hardest.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was the guest at a Star readers debate in October, has warned his MPs that Mr Clegg has borne the brunt of criticism of the coalition and Prime Minister David Cameron was getting a relatively easy ride, urging members to “go after” the Tory leader – to hold him to account for his “broken promises”.
The Star’s deputy editor Paul License said: “We are pleased to be hosting Nick Clegg’s first major public debate in his home constituency. This is a great opportunity for our readers to grill the Deputy Prime Minister on issues and concerns they have about Sheffield and the country. It’s a crucial time for the region and I’m sure readers of The Star will have a long list of questions they want to put to him.”
- To register your interest in attending our Meet Nick Clegg event with The Star email your full name, address and daytime phone number, with Meet Nick Clegg in the subject field, to email@example.com. Please tell us two questions you think Mr Clegg should answer.
The event will be in Sheffield city centre on Monday evening, February 21, at 6pm. Successfully registered readers will be told the exact location and will need to bring photographic ID.