VOTERS grilled Parliamentary candidates on the EU, the NHS and food banks during a hustings event for South Basildon and East Thurrock.

More than 50 residents packed into St Gabriel’s Church in Rectory Road, Pitsea, to hear what candidates had to say about a range of national and local issues.

The turnout reflected the prediction that Basildon is a major battleground for the four main political parties in the general election on May 7.

Ukip is expecting to make gains in the constituency with its candidate Ian Luder, the former chairman of Basildon Hospital.

He replaced Kerry Smith after he was forced to standdown after racist and homophobic recordings of telephone conversations were leaked to a national newspaper.

The candidates included Mike Le-Surf for Labour, Ian Luder for Ukip, Stephen Metcalfe for the Conservatives, Kerry Smith, an Independent candidate and Geoff Williams for the Liberal Democrats.

The first question of the night came from impressive 12-year-old Megan Collins, from Pitsea, who asked what the candidates would do for young people.

Echo:  Ian Luder, Mike Le-Surf, and Geoff williams waitring for the evening to start