With the General Election fast approaching, hustings events are cropping up in constituencies across the UK, and the Hexham constituency is no different.

On Tuesday, Prudhoe became the first venue for a series of events which, over the next week, will allow candidates to gather in a neutral environment in Tynedale to answer questions from local residents.

The Electoral Commission defines a hustings event as a “meeting where election candidates or parties debate policies and answer questions from the audience”.

The key is for local people to have the opportunity to raise questions for the benefit for the whole community, which will ultimately result in supporting those eligible, to be able to make an informed decision about how to use their vote.

And thanks to the proactive communities in Tynedale and Ponteland, there’s no shortage of opportunities for residents to hear what all four candidates have to say on the key issues of the campaign, with events in Ponteland and Hexham still to come.

This election will also see an “alternative hustings” held in Ovingham next month, after all four candidates signed up to a clean campaign pledge, instigated by the Rev. Tom Birch.

It calls on candidates to remain positive and not to engage with personal attacks on opponents.

Hustings events can be held by a variety of organisations or community groups, including churches.

As a means of putting parliamentary candidates to the test, hustings are the best decision-making tool members of the public have available.

The format is part of the bedrock of democracy in this country and even more important at a time when the political parties are becoming increasingly distant from voters on issues such as Brexit.

Hustings could have an important role to play in reinvigorating British politics.