SOME of Darlington’s most controversial topics were on the table at a lively hustings event on Wednesday.

In a heated hustings, the town’s election candidates were grilled on a wide range of subjects, from Trident to local authority pay packets and the politics of Russell Brand.

Reflecting local concerns, Labour’s candidate Jenny Chapman was forced to quell long-standing rumours around her home while Alan Docherty, for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, was asked to return wages paid to him by Darlington Borough Council as a former union rep.

As Ms Chapman promised to represent the interests of her home town, she was heckled by some claiming she lived in Wales – a claim she denies.

Mr Docherty was asked to pay back his wages to council tax payers by an audience member who claimed Darlington Borough Council was wrong to pay union workers.

To applause, he told the crowd that he saved the authority hundreds of thousands of pounds in his role by working to support employees and prevent industrial action.

Age UK Darlington’s hustings event also saw Peter Cuthbertson defend his party’s anti-austerity agenda while Green Party candidate Mike Cherrington was jeered for outlining his party’s promises around ambitious housing plans.

Liberal Democrat candidate Anne-Marie Curry largely escaped direct criticism during the event, which was attended by all parties but Ukip, whose candidate cited work reasons for missing a number of recent hustings.

Sandra Phipps, the chair of Darlington’s Neighbourhood Watch scheme, asked the candidates what their priorities for Darlington were.

Mr Docherty pledged to continue campaigning for a living wage, saying the town was bottom of the league for wages.

He said: “If you go onto High Row you’ll find it is becoming a ghost town because people can’t afford to buy anything.”

Mr Cuthbertson said he would prioritise further investment and make the town less reliant on the government – but said he also worried about the state of its high street.

Ms Curry said she would fight to have a bus station in the town and would work to highlight its rich heritage.

She said: “We need to do more about our heritage, this should be a thriving, lively town.”

Mr Cherrington said he would focus on health and social care and a move away from its privatisation.

Ms Chapman said: “My priority will always be jobs for Darlington, if you have a job with prospects, you will spend money in our town centre and it will create a vibrant town.”