SUNDERLAND is to get its own Question Time show – with a holy difference.
Politicians in the running for election in the Sunderland Central constituency have been invited to take part in the city’s own version of the panel programme.
I am really looking forward to this, not only because it is a coming together of all the Christian Churches in Sunderland, but because it gives us the opportunity to shape the local political battle-field before the general election.Father Marc Lyden-Smith
They will face a grilling from the audience, who will propose questions ahead of the meeting, with the session to be tweeted live on the night.
The event will be hosted by St Mary’s RC Church in the city centre as Christian churches in the area unite to help voters decide there they will place their cross when general election day comes on Thursday, May 7.
Those to have confirmed their attendance include Labour’s Julie Elliott, who is the sitting MP for the constituency, Conservative candidate Jeff Townsend, the Green Party’s Rachel Featherstone and Brian Forster of UKIP.
Pastor David Burke, from Sunderland’s Bethany Church, will take up the role of chairman of the debate, which is taken by David Dimbleby in the BBC’s own Question Time.
Father Marc Lyden-Smith, a priest at St Mary’s in Bridge Street, said: “All political parties have been invited to take part in this exciting meeting of religion and politics.
“Due to the region’s historic roots and modern initiatives Sunderland has a large Christian community. “The faithful of the city will have an opportunity to hold the would-be MPs to account about various issues in our community.
“Each candidate spells out why their party is the best option for the city and then take questions from the audience. I am really looking forward to this, not only because it is a coming together of all the Christian Churches in Sunderland, but because it gives us the opportunity to shape the local political battle-field before the general election.
“I’m expecting a huge crowd armed with questions about our food banks, the injustices our people face, immigration, jobs, regeneration and lots more.
“It may be organised by the Christian churches, but everyone is welcome to come and question our candidates.”
The Facebook and Twitter accounts which will be used to interact with voters are in the process of being set up.
The session will run from 7pm on Wednesday, April 15, at St Mary’s, with doors to open at 6pm.