THE four candidates standing in the all-important Stifford Clays by-election are preparing for a close battle as voters go to the polls on Thursday.

All have been out canvassing in the ward in a bid to get a feel for the issues and inform residents how they intend to address concerns.

Labour candidate Sue Shinnick is keen to carry on the legacy left by Diana Hale.

She dubbed the recently opened Elizabeth Gardens retirement complex a wonderful achievement and is keen to continue working with elderly residents, but is equally as keen to help youngsters.

She said: “It’s about recognising elderly people’s concerns, but younger people also need things to do, so we plan on working with William Edwards to organise more for youngsters. Being a parent, I recognise that need.”

Ms Shinnick, a mother-of-two who works for Serco at Thurrock Council as an adminstrator, added: “I know the issues with traffic and walking around the streets, you realise how bad the potholes are.

“We’re also looking at putting a couple of measures in to help with parking, that’s been an issue for a while. Another issue is buses. Labour managed to get a bus reinstated, but there’s more we can do.”

Danny Nicklen, the Conservative candidate and former ward councillor for Stanford East and Corringham Town, who still lives in Stanford-Le-Hope, said: “There seems to be a real grudge that people in Stifford Clays have been left to get on with it because there seems to be this idea that people are quite affluent.

“The authority tells us it has spent more money on potholes, but that doesn’t seem to be in Stifford Clays. It’s not fair it’s been left in that state.

“The area is nice in the sense it has grass verges, but they get damaged, so we need to look at them on a road-by-road basis to see if the situation can be improved.

"Buses also seem to be a big problem, especially for elderly residents, but one thing I’m really concerned with is youth provision, which needs to be improved.

“I’ve noticed there doesn’t seem to be the support for the Barking and Dagenham merger, so I think we need to take a rain check on that.”

Mr Nicklen, who retired from his post as a councillor before the last election to go travelling, is an officer at Kent County Council.

He added: “I enjoyed what I did before and thought I was good at it. I would love to be able to play my part again.”

The UKIP candidate Clive Broad, a businessman who lives on Lodge Lane, was keen to emphasise that decisions made in Brussels do have an impact in the UK. He said: “The EU costs us £170billion per year.

“One fifth of what we contribute to Europe in five days would save Essex Police from making the cuts they need to make in the next five years.

“There’s not enough police in the borough, there’s one ambulance and one paramedic covering the whole of Thurrock. These issues concern people.

“If UKIP get into local councils we can get noticed and spread these messages.

“Thurrock Council could go skint within the next 12 months and we can’t do anything without money.”

Kevin Mulroue, the Liberal Democrat candidate of Goldsmith, Grays, told the Gazette: “Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, local schemes have been given £100,000 extra. Local schools have also received extra money thanks to national, Lib Dem initiatives.

"So we’re promoting those within our campaign, but we’re focussed largely on the ultra local issues.

“There’s also a need for a pedestrian crossing on Long Lane and we’re quite keen to look at the bus access on Crammaville Street.”

He added: “We’ve been to a couple of council meetings and they’re depressing.

“There seems to be no consensus. If elected, you’re there to represent the people in your ward.”