THE Liberal Democrat bandwagon rolled into Cirencester this week as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hosted a gruelling question and answer session and urged Cotswold residents to vote decisively for change.

As election fever spreads, more than 200 residents packed into Cirencester College’s Sundial Theatre on Tuesday evening to probe Nick Clegg, national leader of the Liberal Democrat party.

He gave a damning indictment of the Tory-run Cotswold District Council and said it was time for change in the district.

"Something is in the air for the Cotswolds," he said.

"The Conservative council here has a lot to answer to, not least the extravagant spending on a magician. They are clearly out of touch with local people and are becoming a laughing stock.

"The Conservatives have been in control here for so long that they are taking the support for granted and that is not healthy. Local Liberal Democrats are putting forward excellent ideas for change and they are a real alternative."

CDC’s chief executive David Neudegg came under fire in March after it was revealed he had hired Magic Circle member Shay McConnon, a renowned motivational speaker, to boost morale among authority staff at a cost of £19,000.

Mr Clegg faced difficult questions on a variety of hot topics including the debate on the Alternative Vote, a rise in student fees and fuel tax, the Coalition Government, crisis in Libya and more local issues including the scandal surrounding the Cotswold Water Park.

The major topic of the evening centred on the Alternative Vote debate as electors must decide on Thursday, May 5, the same day they go to the polls to elect their district councillors, whether to change the voting format to AV instead of the current First Past The Post system.

Mr Clegg, who is leading the Vote Yes to AV campaign, said: "I call it basic democracy that those privileged enough to represent electors in Parliament should have the backing of the majority of those electors.

"Most people in this country are represented by MPs they didn’t vote for. The FPTP system is flawed and broken. AV is a small change that will make a huge difference and put an end to safe seats."

Cotswold Liberal Democrats are this year fielding a record 35 candidates including Joe Harris, 18, who is believed to be the youngest candidate in the country.

Mr Clegg paid tribute to Joe for his determination to launch his political career so young.

He said: "I think it is fantastic that young people in the Cotswolds will have a voice in politics and hopefully it will encourage young voters to go to the polls next week."

Cotswold District Councillor for the Water Park, Esmond Jenkins, asked Mr Clegg to support local efforts to transfer the Cotswold Country Park and Beach back into public ownership and investigate allegations of misconduct by public officials at Gloucestershire County Council

There was public outcry in 2007 when CWP Society sublet CCPB, then known as Keynes Country Park, to leisure operators Watermark with many fuming over the transfer of such a lucrative publicly-owned asset. Under a controversial loophole in the lease, Watermark can remain in the Park rent-free for five years as CWPS could not afford to pay them a break-payment.

In reply Mr Clegg said: "Here we are dealing with very serious allegations indeed. I will look into it but cannot comment publicly tonight."

Mr Clegg also fielded questions on the Youth Parliament, his relationship with Gordon Brown and the NHS.