EIGHTY people attended a special debate in Kendal on Friday night (April 4) chaired by Tebay farmer and businessman John Dunning of Westmorland Limited.

The 'Forward in Europe' hustings event at Kendal Town Hall, saw four of the five candidates wanting to become a North West MEP in the May elections, take questions.

Parties taking part included Conservative Kevin Beatty; the Green Party candidate Peter Cranie; sitting MEP for the Lib Dems Chris Davies, and Labour's Wajid Khan.

Lee Slaughter, UKIP's prospective MEP, withdrew at late notice.

Questions from the floor ranged from whether there should be a referendum, the cost and value of the EU and EU reform, alongside other issues.

Peter Cranie for the Green Party called for a referendum as soon as possible in order to get on with the job of reforming the EU.

All candidates were personally in favour of staying in the EU although they acknowledged the risks of a referendum.

Candidates were challenged about the price to taxpayers of the EU and an audience member claimed the cost of EU membership was less than the price of a cup of coffee per day per UK citizen.

Peter Cranie, of the Green Party, argued that the EU was good value for money and membership was an overall benefit to Britain.

However, he wants to see the Common Agricultural Policy reformed to shift subsidies from the big landowners to small farmers.

Asked if they could each reform one thing about the EU, Labour's Wajid Khan, said it was about reducing the costs of the Parliament, while Tory Kevin Beatty said it was the perceived ‘gold plating’ of the transposition of EU legislation into UK law.

Chris Davies, for the Lib Dems, talked about more subsidiarity on some social and employment legislation.

The subject of energy supplies came up with Mr Davies supporting more fossil fuels in the form of fracking and Mr Cranie giving an unequivocal ‘no’ to the practice.