The consequences for South Holland and the Deepings of leaving the European Union (EU) was the dominant issue during a live radio debate in Spalding on Friday.
At least 250 people were inside Spalding Grammar School’s main hall for BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? hosted by journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby.
However, the news was made even before the first question was asked when a burst water main and power cut saw the hosts, panellists, producers and audience move away from South Holland Centre which was originally set to host the programme.
Centre manager Sally Harrison said: “We rang Spalding Grammar School at about 11am, after planning this event for months, and the school pulled it out of the bag in three hours.”
The panellists, Conservative MP Anna Soubry, Labour MP Kate Hoey, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb and Peter Davis, who runs a fruit and vegetable producer in Louth, faced questions on the EU referendum in June, migrant workers, immigration and the legalisation of cannabis.
My first ever paid job was when I came over from Northern Ireland and worked in Smedley’s (Salads, Pinchbeck) and I had a great timeKate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall and former Sports Minister
Kathleen Tanner of Market Deeping, who asked a question on how a “No” vote in the EU referendum would effect businesses dependent on migrant workers, said: “I was surprised to be chosen and I almost didn’t put my question in, even though I’m a regular listener to the programme.
“I’m sure there are lots of other issues and problems, such as employment and local transport which is getting worse and worse, that could have been raised because this has always been an area of low wages.”
During the sometimes heated debate, Miss Hoey revealed that her “first ever paid job” was at Smedley’s Salads in Pinchbeck, adding: “Before we joined the (EU), there were always seasonal workers coming to work in this area.
“My first ever paid job was when I came over, with a whole group of students from Northern Ireland, and worked in Smedley’s and we worked there two summers.
“I had a great time, I loved Spalding and it was a wonderful, wonderful place.
“I met lots of young men and women (here) and it was a really, really nice place.”
But there was less enthusiasm when Mr Davis, in answer to a question on EU workers coming to Lincolnshire said: “It’s quite enjoyable to drive through Spalding and see Lithuanian shops, Polish shops and European shops.”
Mr David and Miss Hoey both voiced their preference for leaving the EU, while Mr Lamb and Ms Soubry defended the UK’s membership as “overwhelmingly to the benefit of Lincolnshire and the UK”, Ms Soubry said.
On the subject of immigration, Mr Lamb said: “Successive governments have been willing to accept the benefits of immigration, but not the extra investment to be able to cope with the increased numbers.”
After the broadcast, Mr Dimbleby said: “At the end of the programme, we asked the audience if anyone found it boring and not a single hand went up because people do really care about these issues.
“I’m always struck by how beautiful the centre of Spalding is and it’s got some of the most lovely houses in Britain.”
Meanwhile, Spalding Grammar School headmaster Steven Wilkinson said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that we were able to step in at the last minute and assist South Holland Centre by making the necessary arrangements to allow the programme to go ahead.
“I thought it was a very good programme and very positive.”