POLITICIANS and community members debated how to support old, young, and vulnerable people of different cultures and creeds.

Concerns voiced about the state of Blackburn with Darwen’s education system, aging population, and cultural make-up, triggered a public debate to tackle the issues.

Chairing the event, Jack Straw MP and Harry Catherall, chief executive of the borough council, faced tough questions from the floor, at Census 2011 – What is the Future of Blackburn with Darwen?

On being probed as to how the pair believe free schools and academies affect cultural cohesion, Mr Catherall said: “The policy is incoherent. It seems like anyone can set up their own school now, which splits resources.”