Huddersfield's veteran MP Barry Sheerman and award-winning BBC journalist Liz Green went head-to-head last night in an eagerly awaited showdown that had set the town talking for days.

On her early morning radio show last week Ms Green forcefully criticised the state of her home town following a Kirklees Council report that more needed to be done to improve its night-time economy and declared Huddersfield town centre “unsafe”.

Her central argument was that the town was not as welcoming as it used to be and said many of the town's residents would feel uneasy about walking in parts of it, especially the Cross Church Street area, once night fell.

Liz Green and Barry Sheerman take a tour of Huddersfield town centre
Liz Green and Barry Sheerman take a tour of Huddersfield town centre

After Barry Sheerman went on her show to stick up for thew town , she said: "I would like Barry to see just how intimidating that experience can be: to witness certain behaviour in some parts of our town and explain why there is a lack of investment.”

This project could transform parts of Huddersfield - but young people who care must get involved

So, after all the words had been exchanged there was only one thing to do - walk the streets together and try to decide who was right.

And who better to chaperone the pair than Kirklees Supt Oz Khan.

Kirklees Supt Oz Khan
Kirklees Supt Oz Khan

The duo set off from Lebanese restaurant Med One at 7.30pm and were quickly accosted by a man outside McDonald's who told them it was a good idea but the wrong time and rightly suggested the time for witnessing disturbing behaviour was several hours later in the early hours of the morning when dozens of inebriated young people were disgorged onto the streets, some of them looking for trouble.

Barry Sheerman and Liz Green have been butting heads over the state of Huddersfield town centre

The trip also took in a visit to John and Joe Marsden's Central Lodge Hotel and St Peter's churchyard where two bemused men sat quietly on a bench wondering what was going on.

Inevitably, such a snapshot generated more heat than light and it was only to be expected that both of the participants would stick doggedly to their positions.

Liz and Barry talking to Kirklees Supt Oz Khan
Liz and Barry talking to Kirklees Supt Oz Khan

Liz accused Barry of "not listening" while he suggested that, really, it was a matter of personalities. He said: "I am a glass half-full kind of person while Liz is a glass half-empty kind of person. She was consistently talking the town down and I am always talking it up.

"I am listening. I really enjoyed tonight. I have known Liz for over 20 years and I think she is a fantastic journalist. She gives me a hard time and I love it.

"Liz gives me a hard time and I love it," says Barry

"Of course, there is a lot more to be done in Huddersfield. But I was elected here in 1979 and we were going through a really tough time then with the decline of traditional industries. Nowadays the challenges are rather different, people are shopping online and deserting the town centre."

BBC Radio Leeds presenter Liz Green

Mr Khan said: "For me it's not an unsafe town. We have the same issues that every town up and down the country faces. In fact we are one of the safest town in the country. Month on month violent crime has gone down in the town centre."

And he promised residents would see "extra police officers on the streets of the town centre" in the run up to Christmas. He said: "We want people to be reassured about coming to the town centre."