Off to Lingfield Point last night to sit in a huge empty factory unit, complete with lovely silver foil wrapped extraction ducts, for the inaugural Darlington Debate: "The Economic Future of Darlington: Dynamism or Decline".
It was presented as a "Question Time" style event, cordially chaired by Peter Barron, editor of the Northern Echo. Unfortunately it lacked that key ingredient that makes QT such rivetting viewing: a divergence of views on the panel. I don't recall any significant disagreements among the panellists and only one minor spat in the audience about the role of the voluntary sector.
Also, because the panel were on the same level as the audience, those of us sitting near the back could not see the speakers very well. And hopefully they'll get the sound system sorted out before the next debate, whenever that might be. Maybe there'll be a General Election version with the various party candidates. That'll be fun!
Tomorrow there will be a report in the Echo and also the chance to watch the whole thing on internet tv. Don't expect any great insights or excitement, though. This was a decent start to what I understand will become a regular series of debates, but with all the speakers keen to stress the positive side of business in Darlington and no one on the panel to represent the unions or the wider community, it was (just like the Darlington Partnership Prosperous Theme Group) full of the prosperous and successful. A little controversy would have been appreciated!