It’s the row between the MP and the radio host that has set all Huddersfield talking.
But behind the banter lies the need for a reality check and the removal of rose-tinted spectacles.
That’s the view of BBC Radio Leeds presenter Liz Green, who tonight (FRI) will walk hand-in-hand with Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman as they tour the town in the aftermath of a Kirklees Council report saying more NEEDS to be done to create a more diversified, thriving night-time economy.
On her early morning radio show last week Ms Green criticised the state of her home town and declared Huddersfield “unsafe”.
That led to a swift response from Mr Sheerman, the town’s MP since 1979, who rebuffed her comments and defended Huddersfield’s reputation.
Now the duo have agreed to walk the streets together to decide who is right, and whether Huddersfield needs to clean up its act.
“It’s tongue in cheek,” said Mr Sheerman.
“It’s quite amusing. Liz thought she had got the upper hand. I said I would take her by the hand and take her round Huddersfield, so I invited her. Then she stood outside McDonald’s and said ‘Where are you?’
“But it’s my town. I will be taking HER round the town. It’s all good stuff and good for Huddersfield, and good publicity. It’s a bit of fun but we have to be careful. We don’t want to draw a crowd. The tour will be on a low-key basis. We will have people with us.
Tongue-in-cheek or not, Ms Green was resolute that things need to change.
“It is clear from the strength of response both on the BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show and on social media that many feel very strongly that Huddersfield is not what it was, either during the day for shopping and particularly at night,” she said.
“The ‘Revival Report’ wants us to come into my home town at night for a meal. 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.”
Mr Sheerman countered by highlighting a new report that showed the top 100 highest total crime areas in the UK by constituency. Yorkshire was well represented with areas such as Leeds Central, Sheffield Central and Doncaster Central high on the list.
“Huddersfield does not come into the top 100 in the crime figures unlike other parts of West Yorkshire,” added Mr Sheerman, although he did reference “two very unfortunate incidents outside McDonald’s”.
He went on: “If you are not used to the town centre you will feel slightly out of your depth.
“I keep saying that slightly older people will get shocked. They don’t come into the town at night unless they’re at the theatre. Then they come out onto Cross Church Street and they say ‘It’s like the Wild West’. Well, join the human race. It’s like that all over Britain on a Saturday night. Young people take over.”
Liz Green replied: “It is not me he needs to convince. It is the thousands of people in our town who no longer enjoy being there and would not be happy to walk down Cross Church Street after dark.”
She said locals longed for a town centre in the daytime that did not look “weary and dirty” and where they could shop without feeling Huddersfield had lost its drive and ambition. She also referenced the hated bus gates, which had ramifications for retailers.
“This was once a beautiful town,” she said. “It’s now a Premier League town with a world class university. Barry needs to convince us that Huddersfield matches the achievement of football and academia and reflects the proud heritage and glory of what we were and can be. I feel proud of my heritage and my town. Many of us want that pride back.
“My fear is that Barry isn’t listening to the many who want Huddersfield to be the better place. It doesn’t matter if he says there are worse places for crime. This is about our town, nowhere else. People - thousands of them - deserve answers. Perhaps his walk with me may lead to a change.
“I’m delighted to lead him - and be led - where he wishes to go. However, there are parts of the town which I will show him that are not pleasant. We will be going there.”