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Summary

  1. Updates on Thursday 1 June
  2. Three of Thurrock's general election candidates take part in live debate on key issues one week ahead of polls opening
  3. Those participating in the debate include:
  4. Tim Aker (UKIP)
  5. John Kent (Labour)
  6. Kevin McNamara (Liberal Democrats)

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Essex elects: That's it for Thurrock debate

Thanks for joining us for our coverage of this morning's live debate with three of the candidates hoping to become the next MP for Thurrock.

We heard from Liberal Democrat Kevin McNamara, UKIP's Tim Aker and Labour's John Kent.

Conservative candidate Jackie Doyle-Price chose not to participate, saying she would spend the last few days of the election period "campaigning to make sure that I deliver Thurrock's support for Theresa May and the Conservatives".

If you'd like to read what the candidates had to say, you can scroll down the feed and catch up, or listen back on BBC iPlayer.

Labour targeting Thurrock

Andrew Woodger

BBC News

If Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party is to form the next government, history suggests it has to win in Thurrock, which is why it's such an important seat.

Despite the party's disastrous showing in the 1983 general election under Michael Foot, when it was virtually wiped out across the south of England (outside London), Thurrock remained red.

The Conservatives won every seat in Essex in 1987, but Labour's Andrew McKinlay regained Thurrock in 1992 - their only win in Essex that year.

Mr McKinlay held it until 2010, when it went blue again.

Election analysis websites have Thurrock high on Labour's list of target seats (seventh on the Election Polling website; in the top 10 on the "centre left" Labour List website; number eight on the UK Polling Report website).

The Conservatives are hoping the constituency's pro-Brexit vote (72% Leave v 28% Remain) will work in their favour rather than Labour's and increase the 536 majority which the Tories' Jackie Doyle-Price had in the 2015 general election.

Follow more news from Thurrock at the BBC's general election constituency page.

Archery target
BBC

Thurrock debate: Candidates talk justice and policing

The final two questions put to the candidates related to the justice system and policing.

Caller Norma asked what the parties would do with regard to foreign criminals "languishing" in British jails.

Labour's John Kent responded by saying there were "lots of failings in the justice system" and a "proper review" was needed "to make sure we're prosecuting the right people and the penalty fits the crime".

Mr Kent also said his party's manifesto made it clear that 10,000 extra police officers would be brought in over the course of the next parliament to replace the thousands lost "over the last seven years".

Police station
BBC

UKIP's Tim Aker said there had been "years of Labour and Conservative neglect of our borders", and "enough's enough".

He added that it was "outrageous" that police stations in Thurrock had been closed.

"We're in a stratgeic part of the country - we've got ports, the crossing, Lakeside," he said.

"Thurrock deserves better and we need someone to stand up and shout for us."

And Lib Dem Kevin McNamara called for a "wholesale review" of the justice system with more "restorative justice and community justice solutions".

"I was the police and crime commissioner candidate last year, and I highlighted how chronically underfunded Essex is compared to other areas of the country," he said.

"And it's been because the Conservatives have been in power in Essex for as long as I can remember.

"In our manifesto, we said we would increase police funding for every force, worth £300m to Essex alone."

Lib Dems think people 'should have a say' on Brexit deal

"I think lots of people voted Leave based on what they thought Brexit would look like," Lib Dem Kevin McNamara said.

"I campaigned against leaving, but I respect the result.

"I don't think Theresa May should be the only person who gets to have a say on what Brexit looks like.

"We're prepared to throw everything away and trust her - I think the people should have a say on whether they agree with the terms."

View more on twitter

Thurrock debate: 'The people have spoken' on Brexit

Labour's John Kent said the "people had spoken" about Brexit, and Labour would deliver on the result of the referendum.

"We have to get on with the job of delivering Brexit," he said.

"We've got to make sure the timetable is stuck to, we need to make sure we get a deal that works for working people and gives us the best chance to prosper.

"All of us want a deal, but it can't be a deal at any price.

"We need to see it as an opportunity to trade more widely, as an outward-looking nation."

View more on twitter

'People used to laugh at UKIP - they're not laughing anymore'

The candidates have been giving their views on Brexit. UKIP's Tim Aker said now was "the most important time" for Brexit.

"It's about getting the deal that's right for Britain, and the deal that people voted for.

"In Thurrock, 72% of voters said they wanted to leave the EU, and if you're now thinking of voting for Remainers, you're going back on all that hard work.

"People used to laugh at UKIP - they're not laughing anymore.

"We've got to finish the job - I'll nominate myself to go and negotiate in Brussels."

View more on twitter

Thurrock debate: How would you protect healthcare?

Listener Neil asked the candidates if they had a long-term strategy to ensure vulnerable people's health and care was protected in the future.

Kevin McNamara for the Lib Dems responded by saying there was "a funding crisis in the NHS, not a crisis of efficiency, as the Conservatives want you to think".

"We'd put 1p on the pound in income tax to raise money for the NHS," he said.

"We've come out against dementia tax, and think we should have a welfare state that protects the most vulnerable - including the elderly."

NHS
PA

UKIP's Tim Aker said his party would "scale back" foreign aid levels to pay for the NHS.

"Tory priorities, which squeeze the least well-off while sending money overseas - that's abhorrent to me," he said.

"We'd scale foreign aid back to 0.2%.

"If we were able to keep business rates locally, we could pave the streets with gold and invest here. We could do so much more."

And Labour's John Kent said: "If we want good quality health and social care, we'd have to pay for it.

"Our manifesto says we would raise income tax for people who earn more than £85,000 a year - they're the top 5% of earners."

He said his mother had recently spent two weeks in Basildon Hospital, where "in general the care was exceptional".

But he said investment in healthcare was a "top issue", because staff are currently doing what they can on limited resources.

Will the parties invest in rail to keep HGVs off the road?

A question has been put to the candidates from listener Matt, who asks why there is no provision in the parties' manifestos to increase investment in rail infrastructure and get HGVs off the road?

In reply, Labour's John Kent said projects like London Gateway and plans for a new port terminal in Tilbury would both make good use of rail if it was available and the answer is to re-nationalise the railways.

"We should be able to move heavy goods by train as well as by road," he said.

"By nationalising the railways, we would have the opportunity to put investment into passenger rail and heavy goods rail.

"Having our hands on the ownership of the rails would give us an opportunity we shouldn't miss."

Busy road
BBC

Liberal Democrat Kevin McNamara said environment was "at the heart" of the party's manifesto, which had also pledged record levels of rail investment.

"I live in Grays and know the Dartford crossing is congested because we haven't got the rail infrastructure to move things around," he said.

"We would invest in solutions to improve public transport."

Tim Aker of UKIP said the question had "hit the nail on the head".

"The consultation by Highways England over the crossing was shambolic, and we would reopen that process to make sure plans were thorough," he said.

"We're determined to make sure we don't get HGVs rolling through Thurrock.

"Use that vote to get some change in Thurrock."

Thurrock debate: What do the parties think about new Lower Thames Crossing?

The candidates have answered the first question in this morning's debate - what is their stance on a new Thames river crossing in Thurrock?

A £6bn project is set to link the M25, near North Ockendon, Essex, with the A2 in Kent.

Labour's John Kent said the decision was wrong.

"We need more than one new crossing, but frankly, putting another one in Thurrock is madness," he said.

"People here suffer hugely from the effects of congestion, and the fact is, putting a new crossing through the countryside and the green belt and wrecking homes will only make congestion worse and won't solve the problem.

"Earlier options for the crossing were dumped too quickly.

"We need new crossings but they've got to be in the right place."

Crossing
BBC

Tim Aker, the UKIP candidate, said he would "scrap it completely" and look at other options.

"We're the only party to say in our manifesto that we'd scrap it," he said.

"Thurrock's always the dumping ground. We've been forgotten about, and it's time to have an MP who makes a noise and gets Thurrock noticed."

Liberal Democrat Kevin McNamara said the proposed plans were wrong, and the government had not been doing enough to solve congestion.

"Jackie Doyle-Price sits with the government, votes with the government, then comes back to Thurrock and doesn't deliver," he said.

Thurrock debate: Why are we talking about the constituency?

Simon Dedman

BBC Essex political reporter

Three of the four candidates standing in Essex's closest general election battle are going head-to-head on BBC Essex this morning, with just a week until the vote itself.

Thurrock is the most marginal seat in Essex. Labour were just 536 six votes behind the Conservatives, with UKIP, who were the bookies' favourites two years ago, coming a close third.

Whilst the Tories are confident that Jackie Doyle Price will be re-elected, the other parties say issues like the new Thames crossing and social care have been attracting voters to them.

Jackie Doyle-Price
BBC

Brexit will dominate our debate this morning and beyond - the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to make a speech on Britain leaving the EU in Basildon this afternoon.

Thurrock election results in 2015

The last time there was a general election, the Conservatives won by a slim majority: 536 votes.

The full list of results can be seen below:

Election results
BBC

But in 2010, the race was even closer, with just 92 votes in it between the Tories and Labour - the third smallest majority in the country.

This time around, former Labour leader of Thurrock Council, John Kent, is running as the party's candidate.

He'll be joined by UKIP's Tim Aker, Jackie Doyle-Price for the Conservatives and Lib Dem Kevin McNamara for this morning's debate.

Essex elects: Who's taking part in the Thurrock debate?

We're going to be hearing from candidates from three of the four main political parties during the next hour. They are:

  • Tim Aker, UKIP (below, centre)
  • John Kent, Labour (below, right)
  • Kevin McNamara, Liberal Democrats (below, left)
Thurrock election candidates
BBC

The Conservatives have held the seat under Jackie Doyle-Price since 2010. The party has chosen not to take part in the debate, and said: "We are entering a transformational period in British politics following the decision to leave the European Union.

"Theresa May needs the mandate and the majority to lead Britain out of the European Union on our terms.

"In the last days remaining I will be campaigning to make sure that I deliver Thurrock's support for Theresa May and the Conservatives. I will be participating in the Churches Together hustings at Grays Parish Church on Monday."

Welcome to live coverage of the Thurrock election debate

Jodie Halford

BBC News

Good morning - thanks for joining us for our coverage of a live debate of key issues in Thurrock, ahead of next week's general election.

Candidates from three of the four main political parties will be answering your questions and discussing what they'd do if they're successful in their bid to become MP for Thurrock.

We'll bring you more on who's taking part in the debate shortly.