CAMPAIGNERS in Basildon have called on the Government to invest in public services rather than spend on the military.

The South Essex Campaign Against the Arms Trade held a people’s ballot, asking the public to vote on how they wanted public money spent.

During two hours in Basildon Town Square, people used coloured balls to choose, with the NHS emerging as the most popular option.

Campaigners said passers-by praised Basildon Hospital, but worried staff were stretched to breaking point.

Housing and education were other areas where residents raised concerns.

The event was part of a week of action marking the Global Day of Action on Military Spending on Monday.

The UK’s military spending – £38billion per year – is the sixth highest in the world.

Wickford resident Ann Kobayashi, a spokesman for the campaign group, said: “At the same time as our public services are facing drastic cuts, the Government is continuing to spend more than almost every other country in the world on weapons and war.

“For too long we have been hearing the myth that high military spending is essential for building peace, creating jobs and combating terrorism.

“It's a myth that is promoted by governments and the multinational arms companies that benefit from the global arms trade politically and economically.”