Clegg accepts Sheffield debate challenge

Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg
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NICK Clegg has accepted a challenge to debate with his rivals for the Sheffield Hallam seat in the coming General Election.

In a joint statement this morning, the Labour, Conservative and Green candidates all urged the Deputy Prime Minister, the current MP for Sheffield Hallam, to match his enthusiasm for national TV debates with a promise to take part in hustings in Sheffield Hallam.

And the leader of the Liberal Democrats has swiftly agreed to take part.

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: “Nick Clegg welcomes the opportunity to debate the Liberal Democrat record in Sheffield.

“There will undoubtedly be an opportunity for all the candidates in Sheffield Hallam to debate with each other at a hustings during the campaign.

“Nick Clegg has successfully focused on real issues such as keeping our local roads gritted during the winter and keeping local libraries open, whereas Labour intend to hike council tax for pensioners and hard working local families.

“Nick holds regular question and answer sessions where, over the last few years, thousands of local residents have been able to debate whatever they want with Nick as their local MP.”

The response came just hours after Oliver Coppard, Ian Walker and Peter Garbutt issued a joint statement calling on Mr Clegg to agree to a local debate.

The statement said: “In recent months Nick Clegg has taken part in a high profile debate with Nigel Farage and enthusiastically agreed to a debate on Channel 4 with the comedian Alex Brooker. More recently, he has claimed that should the televised Leader’s debates not take place in the run up to the General Election it would be ‘a major setback to our democratic process.’

“Despite his willingness to debate issues in London, or accept invitations that serve to raise his national profile, he has so far failed to publicly agree to a hustings or debate here in Sheffield Hallam; the community he was elected to represent.

“In contrast, we the undersigned commit to taking part in any and all general election hustings or debates that would give the people of Sheffield Hallam a genuine opportunity to explore and challenge our ideas, our plans and our policies. Like so many others who live here we are dismayed that Nick Clegg will not make a commitment to do the same and urge him to reconsider his position.”

Mr Clegg held the seat in 2010 with a majority of more than 15,000.