POLITICAL mud-slinging, the number of bobbies on the beat and petrol prices were among issues fiercely debated in a televised debate held at Flint Town Hall last night.

Delyn Parliamentary candidates David Hanson (Labour), Antoinette Sandbach (Conservative), Bill Brereton (Liberal Democrat) and Peter Ryder (Plaid Cymru) went head-to-head and were grilled by audience members at a Question Time-style event hosted and broadcast by BBC Wales.

Mr Hanson, who held on to his seat at the last General Election with a 6,500-plus majority, strenuously defended Labour’s record in power over the last 13 years, pointing to the introduction of the national minimum wage, the National Assembly and tax credits as advances under his party.

Ms Sandbach, a barrister, said there needed to be more “honest” sentencing when it came to crime – with those given custody serving the entirety of their sentences in prison – and added her party would abolish regulations on businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.

Mr Brereton, a former deputy chief constable of North Wales Police, claimed he was not a “namby-pamby soft liberal” and said Vince Cable, his party’s Treasury spokesman, had the best ideas of all politicians on how to fix the UK’s economy.

Mr Ryder, a teacher, said more law-making powers needed to be given to the Welsh Assembly and added there should be fairer funding for the country as a whole.

Earlier in the day Mr Hague was accompanied by Conservative Parliamentary candidate Antoinette Sandbach on a tour of the Kimberly-Clark factory in Flint.