Page last updated at 01:40 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Wootton Bassett mayor wary of Question Time

Repatriation ceremony, Wootton Bassett
Coffins pass through Wootton Bassett on their way to a mortuary in Oxford

The mayor of Wootton Bassett has said he is worried the town could become politicised by an edition of the BBC's Question Time filmed there.

Steve Bucknell says he wants the town to remain an apolitical focal point for honouring British war dead.

The programme was broadcast from Wootton Bassett on Thursday.

Ahead of filming, Mr Bucknell said: "I hope they don't concentrate on the war any more than they would if they were anywhere else."

He added: "It seems as if they're going to but I would have thought the natural thing to be talking about this week would have been the economy."

Wootton Bassett has been praised in the media and in the House of Commons for the way locals have turned out to honour British war dead as they are repatriated via nearby RAF Lyneham.

In the past two-and-a-half years, there have been more than 100 repatriations and each time crowds of people have lined the main street as the corteges passed through.

We would like to see that it would be a fair amount of questions on other subjects as well
Anne Bevis
Royal British Legion

Mr Bucknell said political debate about the war was important, but for Wootton Bassett "to be seen to take sides is inappropriate".

Anne Bevis, of the town's Royal British Legion, echoed the mayor's views.

"The questions could be mainly centred around Afghanistan problems and we would like to see that it would be a fair amount of questions on other subjects as well," she said.

A BBC spokesman said Wootton Bassett had come to symbolise the nation's respect for fallen servicemen.

"The panel reflects a range of perspectives and the issues that will be discussed will, as ever, be led by the audience - whether it's the merits or not of the conflict or other areas of interest," he added.

The panel for the programme was made up of former Army chief Sir Richard Dannatt; Defence Minister Bill Rammell; former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown; shadow foreign secretary William Hague; Salma Yaqoob, leader of the Respect Party, and journalist Piers Morgan.

BBC Radio 1 is to run a special Newsbeat programme from the town at 1245 GMT on Friday.



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SEE ALSO
Town award for RAF base commander
30 Nov 09 |  Wiltshire
Town marking 100th repatriation
20 Nov 09 |  England
In Pictures: Soldier repatriations
14 Jul 09 |  In Pictures

RELATED BBC LINKS

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Wiltshire Gazette and Herald Audience verdict on Question Time in Wootton Bassett - 13 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Wootton Bassett hosts BBC's Question Time - 13 hrs ago
Swindon Advertiser Question Time: Who's who - 17 hrs ago



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