THE candidates vying for the Thurrock seat at next month’s election were grilled tonight at the Gazette hustings in Grays.

The NHS, housing, immigration and infrastructure in Thurrock were all discussed by five of the seven candidates vying for residents' votes next month.

Ukip candidate Tim Aker, Labour’s Polly Billington, Tory Jackie Doyle-Price, Aba Kristilolu from the All People's Party candidate and independent Daniel Munyambu answered pre-selected question submitted to the Gazette.

They also answered a series of questions from some of the 150-strong audience in the Grays Parish Church.

As has been one of the main themes of this election campaign so far, the future of the NHS was a hot topic at the event.

The Tories have been accused of trying to privatise the service, something they refute.

Ms Doyle-Price said: “The most important touchstone has to be that everyone gets free healthcare when they need it, that’s what the NHS is.

She added: “I don’t mind who provides it as long as people get the service. I would no more put the NHS under threat than do something bad to my mother.”

Ms Billington said the service needs to be “saved” from the Tories.

She said: “The NHS is in the balance, we have to save it from the Tories. The people that use it know the consequences of privatisation.

“We’re (Labour) being sensible about this, we know where we’re going to get the £2.5bn for the NHS, and we know what we need to protect the NHS we love.”

Mr Aker said the problem isn’t the NHS but the PFI debts brought on by the Labour in previous parliaments.

He said: “If we hadn’t had those deals would we be in this mess of cuts? No.

“We’ve said in our manifesto that we will put money into the NHS. Every penny of tax should go to the people of this country.”

Mr Munyambu and Mr Kristilolu both stated they want to see the NHS remain free at the point of delivery, but had been meddled with too much by previous governments.

The candidates talk about whether or not the infrastructure can cope with Thurrock's growing community. 

Video 1: Polly Billington talks about the strain on Thurrock's services


Video 2: Tim Aker talks about how planning applications should be reformed


Video 3: Jackie Doyle-Price talks about the strain on Thurrock's services