SOUTHEND West will go to the polls tomorrow, in a byelection which has the entire nation watching.

Nine candidates will be on the ballot to succeed Sir David Amess, who was killed last year. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have not nominated anyone for the seat because of the nature of the election, meaning Conservative Anna Firth will be the only candidate from the major parties.

Whoever wins the seat will be only the fourth MP for Southend West since the seat was created in 1950, with Sir David having represented the constituency since 1997.

We asked each of the candidates for their position on crime in Southend West, the future of the town centre, and how best to address local housing needs. We previously spoke to the candidates to ask why they were standing.

Independent Olga Childs will be on the ballot, but she announced last month that she was withdrawing from the race.

Christopher Anderson, Freedom Alliance

Echo: Christopher Anderson, Freedom AllianceChristopher Anderson, Freedom Alliance

"The chief constable of Essex Police has a benefits package in excess of £200,000 per year. A further 11 employees have total packages of more than £100,000. This is a waste. Resources need to be focused on fighting crime.

Leigh has a vibrant town centre with many independent retailers. I want to protect these businesses. This will mean abolishing business rates and replacing it with a UK sales tax, payable by all retailers with turnover exceeding £1 million pa. Foreign-domiciled corporations will pay. I would replace VAT with packaging and product miles taxes to encourage retailers to stock locally-sourced goods. And I would abolish employers’ National Insurance, which is a tax on jobs.

The Freedom Alliance will levy full council tax on empty properties, bringing more accommodation back into the private rented sector. We will abolish council tax below B and D and reduce it by 50 per cent for Bands D and E."

Catherine Blaiklock, English Democrats

Echo: Catherine Blaiklock, English DemocratsCatherine Blaiklock, English Democrats

"No one is ever going to sort out the problems of ever-escalating house and rent prices until we control the number of immigrants. It makes no difference if migrants are legal or illegal – if we continue to import enough migrants to fill over two new Southends in a single year, year after year, we will never have enough new houses.

"Crime is a national disaster. Only five per cent of burglaries are solved. Police need more people on the beat and should spend a lot less time dealing with so-called ‘hate speech’ offences."

Ben Downton, Heritage Party

Echo: Ben Downton, Heritage PartyBen Downton, Heritage Party

"I have spoken to hundreds of people recently, and a very common issue is crime. There has to be more police available and better neighbourhood policing, this will be a priority to improve on. The current Tories have sold off local police stations and it seems police need to be resourced better and focusing on real crime, not polices like the Coronavirus Act which undermines the police entirely and doesn’t tackle crime in the area.

I would also want investment spent on uplifting local amenities that people need. This would encourage more local business in the area. Developments in the area must bring in money and jobs for the people, not just blocks of apartments put up by private developer’s with no regard to benefitting the local people in the area I would want to make sure that what gets built is bringing in money, jobs, or better housing for the area that people are in need."

Anna Firth, Conservative

Echo: Anna Firth, ConservativeAnna Firth, Conservative

"If elected I will make constant efforts to make Southend West safer for local families and visitors by securing more police officers, and working with the police and local leaders to make sure our police are as visible as possible where they are needed. Making our streets safer for everybody is my number one priority and that’s why I’ve already had meetings with the borough commander, the police and crime commissioner, and raised your concerns with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

Southend West has so much to offer and we need to make the most of our new city status to build on Sir David’s legacy. If I’m elected, I will work hard to secure investment and create new jobs, and I will put in a bid to make Southend a future City of Culture to help us bring even more investment to Southend and the surrounding areas.

I want to ensure everyone can make it their home. That’s why if elected I will work with the council to ensure the houses we have are put to good use, and the right housing is built here."

Jayda Fransen, Independent

Echo: Jayda Fransen, IndependentJayda Fransen, Independent

"People are being subjected to mandatory vaccines, dehumanising face coverings and endless lockdowns, whilst the tyrants in power host illegal parties.

Southend West doesn’t need another self-serving career politician, who will certainly promise constituents the earth, and deliver very little. The people of Southend West deserve an honest voice, to speak up for their rights, their freedom and their safety. Someone who will say NO to forced vaccines, NO to draconian Covid restrictions and NO to unprotected borders.

The good people of Southend deserve their FREEDOM back."

Steve Laws, UKIP

Echo: Steve Laws, UKIPSteve Laws, UKIP

"Crime is growing rapidly all over the nation, Southend included. I believe that the starting point of tackling it is to have a stronger police presence along with re-opening old police stations. More investment is needed in stopping crime before it even becomes a problem, like better funding for rehabilitation schemes.

"The town centre needs major investment in tidying the area up and making it more attractive to encourage new businesses to invest. Small local businesses should be given an overwhelming amount of support with whatever they need to survive that difficult first year. With small changes and the removal of business rates, the High Street could really come back to what it once was.

"The solution to local housing needs is a mixture of affordable housing to be built, along with a lot more social housing."

Graham Moore, English Constitution Party

Echo: Graham Moore, English Constitution PartyGraham Moore, English Constitution Party

"Crime is a blight. It causes despair to victims and ultimately drives away investment. I will support a zero-tolerance policy towards all crime. I’d also petition government for legislation to introduce restitution to victims by the perpetrator. Crime cannot pay.

"The town centre would benefit from more people here spending money. This in turn will attract more business and jobs. Free parking will help this. We held a Freedom Rally on Saturday at Warrior Square, and over 300 people attended. We patronised the Glass House Cafe, stayed in local hotels, and spent money in the pub and restaurants. However, we noticed traffic wardens out in force on the Sunday morning at 8am giving tickets to those who thought Sunday was free parking. That is not a good way to encourage people to come to Southend.

"We need new housing and I will pressure the government to relax the ridiculous zero carbon policy for new builds. They drive up costs for developers which is passed on to buyers. Let’s have sensible, well-insulated houses without going OTT. Brownfield land should be prioritised for development with tax incentives."

Jason Pilley, Psychedelic Party

Echo: Jason Pilley, Psychedelic PartyJason Pilley, Psychedelic Party

"Every other day the Echo contains a story about the police busting a cannabis farm, although this never seems to affect the amount of cannabis on our streets. Ending the failed 'War on Drugs' and legalising cannabis would bring numerous benefits, including allowing police to spend their time and efforts and resources chasing serious criminals.

Everyone who owns a business complains about exorbitant business rates. Our spendthrift government squeezes as much money as possible from anybody who has the nerve to be economically productive. We would cut taxes in a hundred ways – no more foreign aid, no more arts funding, no more subsidising security costs at sports events, fewer nukes, and community-based volunteer DIY schemes for pothole repairs."