The countdown is on to the next General Election and voters will head to the polls on December 12.

We asked the candidates vying to be Colchester’s next MP what the key election issues are, how they will improve the lives of people in the town and what will be the first thing they do if elected.

This is what they had to say...

Mark Goacher, Green

Chelmsford Weekly News:

THE key issues we are hearing are local ones. People want something done about our chronically underfunded public services, the overdevelopment being forced on to the Colchester area by central government, crime and antisocial behaviour and Colchester’s air pollution and traffic congestion problems.

I will be pressing the new government to increase funding for Colchester Hospital and to reduce our centrally imposed housing targets which are way beyond local need, instead allowing councils to borrow more in order to build more council houses, the type of housing which is needed.

Also I will work with our council and Essex County Council to prioritise combatting climate change and sort out Colchester’s congestion problems by creating joined up cycle lanes.

Above all I will not say one thing locally and vote another way when in Parliament as too many MPs do.

If elected, the first thing I will do is to make an appointment with the new Education Secretary, walk into his office, and give him a full and comprehensive account of just what is happening to our schools and sixth form colleges as a result of successive governments’ chronic underfunding, half-baked initiatives and shameful mismanagement of the system.”

Martin Goss, Liberal Democrats

Chelmsford Weekly News:

GENERALLY people have become tired of MPs and the lack of any real legislation being passed in the last three and a half years.

People also don’t wish to discuss Brexit particularly.

From the many conversations I’ve had although Brexit is raised, people are concerned about climate change as this will affect their families in future.

Another issue is the acute and developing issues of mental health complexities within our younger generation, more prevalent and rife than at any other time. There simply isn’t the funding or facilities to help remedy the issues. This will affect a generation if we don’t help to properly resource it.

Violent crime has gone up 105 per cent in Colchester since Will Quince was elected in 2015. Many blame him and his Government for this rise and also the ever burgeoning use of food banks. This usage and growth is not something to be proud of in the 5th richest nation. It’s a systematic failure of government.

Drug usage, dealing and abuse is another common complaint.It needs to be tackled properly once and for all.

NHS funding also needs proper scrutiny and resolution. The NHS is one of our greatest assets and yet it continues to struggle to serve the growing needs of the population.

School funding and class sizes along with a lack of school places in some area is a key issue which needs proper investment.

Infrastructure, housing growth and congestion - this all, of course, links back to the desires of the incumbent Government to build 300,000 houses per annum - most of them in the South East.

If I was elected I would work to stop the ridiculous approach to house building and infrastructure in the UK. Get the infrastructure and put it in first.

Climate change also has to be top of the agenda.

Tina McKay, Labour

Chelmsford Weekly News:

THE main concerns I hear about are the current state of our public services, people are fed up with the constant cuts and reduction in services. There is a lack of availability at GP surgeries, inadequate housing and incredibly high rents.

We have a huge housing needs register and that is a direct result of Conservative policies. Another key issue is community safety, this cuts across a number of issues - lack of police funding, lack of investment in youth services and a general lack of investment in community development. Lack of funding and resources in education also relates to this. People are fed up with austerity and know that over the last ten years things have got much worse, and are frustrated that ordinary people have paid the price.

There is an endless list of important things that need to be dealt with to improve all of our lives and our town. A personal and important issue is mental health. A huge crisis has been brewing. We must ensure everyone has access to help when they need it, not languish on a waiting list when we know that early intervention is vital. Without our mental health we have nothing.

The climate crisis is imperative to tackle. If we don’t everything else is irrelevant.

Colchester has some of the most polluted areas in England and this must be tackled immediately.

There is no denying that Colchester has far too many cars on the road, we must tackle this.

Another issue is the housing crisis. We need cheap high quality council housing to give people the homes they need.

Community safety is another top issue.

None of us should feel unsafe or undervalued in our communities.

Hope has been removed from our lives and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Will Quince, Conservative

Chelmsford Weekly News:

I always listen to local people and campaign to deliver the improvements for Colchester we all want to see like further investment in our hospital, more money for our schools and colleges, putting more police officers on the the beat, further investment in our road and rail services and tackling homelessness.

However, the biggest issue raised on the doorstep is delivering Brexit and people know that only by voting Conservative can we get Brexit done with Boris Johnson’s new deal. A vote for any other party risks the chaos of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government taking us back to the 1970s.

I live in Colchester with my young family so the issues facing Colchester are my and my family’s issues too. I am working to get more police officers on the street by ensuring Colchester gets its fair share of the 20,000 police officers announced by the Prime Minister, getting Colchester moving by continuing my focus on our rail line, the A12, the A120 and our local road network, improving our local NHS following the £69 million capital investment in Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, campaigning for the new £30 million elective care centre to be based in Colchester and more funding for schools having been a strong voice for increased investment in Colchester’s schools and colleges.

I have recently secured up to £25 million to regenerate Colchester town centre so I will work with Colchester Council and the Business Improvement District team to ensure we submit a bold, ambitious plan to the Government. I will always fight for further government investment into Colchester.”