Hot topics up for debate as Any Questions comes to Gloucestershire
WASTE incineration and "irresponsible" parents who milk the benefits system were the hot topics for discussion when Any Questions arrived in Gloucestershire.
The political debate radio show, presented by Jonathan Dimbleby, was held at Gloucester's Guildhall on Friday for the first time in 25 years.
A panel of high-profile guests was on hand to answer audience questions on a variety of topics, from how to combat obesity to the role of Kate Middleton.
Guests included Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper, the minister for immigration, Dragon's Den businesswoman Deborah Meaden, Baroness Jan Royall, the shadow leader of the House of Lords, and Cotswold writer Jeanette Winterson.
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Discussion soon turned to issues affecting Gloucestershire – including controversial plans for a waste incineration plant at Javelin Park near Haresfield.
Jeanette Winterson said: "I don't think there has been enough local consultation and I don't think it's a very imaginative proposal."
Jan Royall described the scheme as "flawed".
However, Deborah Meaden said the idea of using a waste incinerator to create energy and reduce landfill was a positive one.
"It would be crazy not to look at it," she said.
A straw poll of the audience showed the majority of people agreed with her in principle.
Not surprisingly, the panel was also asked for their opinions on a single mother of 11 living on benefits – a reference to Gloucester woman Heather Frost, whose story has attracted national media attention.
Baroness Royall said: "Anyone who has 11 children – be they rich, poor or from the squeezed middle – I think that's irresponsible."
Members of the audience were swift to applaud the point of view.
Mark Harper added: "It's not so much a housing issue.
"The council is trying to house that family in a cost-effective way for the taxpayer.
"It's actually about our benefit system and about making sure people who work for a living don't look at other people who get more out of the system on benefits than they do when they work very hard."