The questions YOU want answered
PUBLISHED: 17:50 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:41 23 August 2010
TACKLING tough questions, the candidates looking for your vote today have laid out their plans on the crucial issues of immigration and the borough s economy. The Liberal Democrats have enjoyed a surge in support nationally, bringing its policies into th
TACKLING tough questions, the candidates looking for your vote today have laid out their plans on the crucial issues of immigration and the borough's economy.
The Liberal Democrats have enjoyed a surge in support nationally, bringing its policies into the limelight and under more scrutiny particularly immigration,
Candidate Anna Arrowsmith, the UK's first female porn producer, said: "This amnesty would be for a short period during which time people who could prove they have lived in the country for 10 years or more could be given permission to stay.
"This is about getting people who are illegally here to become part of the system, bring them out of criminal gangs and have them paying tax.
"The Liberal Democrats would provide work permits for skilled migrants which will only be valid in certain areas to stop the South East from being flooded."
But the proposed illegal immigrant amnesty was branded "crazy" by Labour rival Kathryn Smith.
She said: "They say they will place migrants in certain areas. Seems to me it would be pretty easy to work in Essex and put your family in Gravesend, are we going to suddenly have border police on every major road?"
She also attacked the amnesty suggesting it sent out the wrong message, adding: "We should be proud Britain is a place people want to come to but not reward those who have come here illegally."
Ms Smith said her party would use a points system so only skilled migrant workers would be allowed in but defended the arrival of people from EU member states.
"The vast majority of Europeans who are in Gravesend are working and not abusing the welfare system."
Independent candidate Alice Dartnell's mother is of Japanese decent adding an extra dimension to her feelings on immigration.
She said: "If you come to someone's country you need to be prepared to work hard and put into the system. My mum did so and I know she would never have dreamed of doing otherwise. I welcome all immigrants who do come here to work. Just look at Gravesham and what the Sikh community offers. My doctor is Sikh, my dentist is Sikh, and my boss at the Railway Tavern is Sikh."
Ms Arrowsmith plans to improve Gravesham's economy through schemes such as having empty shops used for additional window space by successful neighbouring businesses, fighting to reduce business rates, and working with developers Edinburgh House to find a acceptable plan for the Heritage Quarter.
Ms Smith wants to meet with the land owners at Northfleet Riverside and Ebbsfleet developments to set out what jobs can be created for local people.
While Miss Dartnell says more must be done to sell Gravesham as a place to visit in neighbouring areas such as Dartford and Rochester, as well as improving street signage and the town's appearance.
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