THURROCK will take to the polls on Thursday to elect councillors in 16 wards and contribute to selecting seven Euro MPs.
And the leaders of each major party explain here why your all important vote should go to them, if it hasn’t already, by post.
Similar to in previous years, this election is set to be very close.
Labour currently have an overall majority of one on the council. They occupy 25 seats in Civic Offices, the Conservatives 21, UKIP one, with two independent councillors currently representing East Tilbury.
Labour could build on their majority, the Conservatives could overtake them or we could see a “hung council” with no party gaining an overall majority.
For the first time, UKIP are fielding candidates in all the wards in which an election is being held, and with them stealing the headlines up and down the UK in the run up to polling day, they could make an interesting impact on the outcome.
European Elections are also being held today, with voters being asked to choose who they would like to represent them in Europe.
So while there will be no local vote in Chafford and North Stifford, Corringham and Fobbing, East Tilbury, and Stanford-le-Hope West, residents there will get to vote for their Euro MP.
Polling stations open at 7am on Thursday [May 22] and will close at 10pm. The count for the council election will take place during the night on Thursday.
The EU count will take place on Sunday, once all of Europe has voted.
For extensive coverage of the local count during Thursday night, visit www.thurrockgazette.co.uk and follow us on twitter, @ThurrockGazette and @GazetteMatt or on Facebook.
WHY VOTE CONSERVATIVES?
Phil Anderson, leader of Thurrock Conservatives, said:
“The first thing the Conservatives would do is to end Labour and UKIP’s scheme to merge the management of Thurrock Council with Barking and Dagenham. We believe that in the current climate the council needs to be lean and focussed on Thurrock, not part of a sprawling bureaucracy running from here to east London.
“We will keep your council tax low every year, not just in an election year. We’ll focus on efficiency and value for money. The council’s housing repairs still go wrong far too often; we have to fix the basics before embarking on multi-million pound housing schemes funded by massive public borrowing, as Labour want to do.
“The council should be a respected voice at national level. Conservatives will use our influence to lobby for road and rail improvements, protect our precious green belt, and work with partners across Essex to get a fair deal for Thurrock.”
WHY VOTE LABOUR?
John Kent, the leader of the ruling Labour group, said:
“At a time when the Government – including our local MPs – has voted for a £25million cut in Thurrock’s grant, with the same to come again over the next four years, I am proud to say that Thurrock has the lowest council tax in Essex.
“In three of the last four years this Labour administration has voted for no increase in your tax bill and Labour Thurrock was one of the first councils in the country to fully embrace shared services and management – working with other authorities such as others in Essex and Barking and Dagenham - to save over £1 million a year.
“We have also led the None of the Above Lower Thames Crossing campaign, argued successfully for free-flow tolls to reduce congestion, restored planning from the hands of a non-elected quango, seen the delivery of a new college in Grays, the National Skills Academy in Purfleet and the creation of many new jobs at London Gateway.
“The Tories put our bills up by over £200 a year, reduced the council reserves by three quarters, overspent the budget by millions and failed to show any proper leadership at all.”
WHY VOTE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT?
Kevin Mulroue, for the Liberal Democrats in Thurrock, said:
“Thurrock Liberal Democrats won't be talking about Europe, immigration, NHS privatisation or indeed anything that Thurrock Council cannot have an effect on in the upcoming local elections for 2014.
"We want to talk to the people of Thurrock about local issues that affect them, such as congestion on the roads around the area, the performance of local schools and how to improve them and attracting more jobs to Thurrock, particularly for young people.
“Labour will want to talk about the NHS, the Tories and UKIP will no doubt wish to talk about Europe, but we want to talk about local services and making sure that in these times of austerity hard-working council tax payers are getting the very best value from them, not having budgets blown on pointless political grand-standing.”
WHY VOTE UKIP?
Tim Aker, Aveley resident and Head of Policy at UKIP, said:
“UKIP will let residents vote on large-scale housing developments through local referendums. Our councillor, Robert Ray, has voted to freeze council tax and voted for increasing the minimum wage.
“UKIP councillors have the highest attendance rate at council meetings and Cllr Ray has a 100 per cent record. We turn up and get things done.
“Our councillors will work to save the borough money but we will never vote for a formal merger with any other council. We support saving money and sharing admin costs to defend jobs and keep your council tax down.
“Nationally a vote for UKIP is a vote to take back control of our borders and stop mass, uncontrolled immigration. You can’t put a cigarette paper between the other parties, so vote for change and support UKIP in the local elections and vote UKIP at the bottom of your European Election ballot paper.”