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Voters to have their say in Europe and the county

PUBLISHED: 17:55 27 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 23 August 2010

General view of the European parliament during a plenary session at the European Parliament on April 22, 2009 in Strasbourg, eastern France.  AFP PHOTO FREDERICK FLORIN (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

General view of the European parliament during a plenary session at the European Parliament on April 22, 2009 in Strasbourg, eastern France. AFP PHOTO FREDERICK FLORIN (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 AFP

VOTERS across north Kent will be going to the polls next week to choose their representatives in both the county council and the European parliament. The election next Thursday will choose councillors from the Dartford, Gravesham and Sevenoaks districts

VOTERS across north Kent will be going to the polls next week to choose their representatives in both the county council and the European parliament.

The election next Thursday will choose councillors from the Dartford, Gravesham and Sevenoaks districts for election into Kent County Council and also the ten MEPs who will represent the South East region of the UK in Europe.

This week reporter Ed Riley gives you the low-down on who's who and what they represent.

EUROPEAN elections take place every five years, where voters across the continent choose a total of 785 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from the 27 EU countries.

The UK is allocated a total of 78 seats, which is broken down into regions, and north Kent is served by the South East region, which has ten seats.

In total there are nearly 150 candidates standing across 15 parties, but instead of choosing just one candidate, you vote for one party.

The number of votes cast for each party correspond to how many seats they will be allocated, in the South East region, it is estimated that parties will need about eight per cent of the vote cast to win one seat.

At the last elections in 2004, the Conservatives secured four seats, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats both secured two seats, and Labour and the Green Party both received one vote.

Once elected into the European Parliament, which is based in Brussels and Strasbourg, they have the power to shape and reject laws that affect all of Europe's 375 million citizens.

As well as the representatives from the three main parties in the UK, there are 11 other parties standing in the South East region.

The Green Party currently has one representative from the South East in Caroline Lucas.

There policies in the European elections include the Green New Deal, and approach to sorting the economic crisis through addressing the climate crisis.

Dr Lucas said: "The current recession, the climate crisis, peak oil, energy security - these problems are all connected. And so are the solutions. Climate change will wreak havoc on our economy. We have no option but to deal with it as a matter of urgency".

Currently represented by Nigel Farage as one of two representatives from the south-east, the UK Independence Party describes themselves as "the only moderate, democratic party to advocate Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

Party leader Mr Farage said: "The European Union costs us all over £40 million each and every day. To put that into perspective, it is enough to build a new, fully-equipped hospital every three days somewhere in the UK.

"It costs us far more than money, however. It is costing us our democracy. In the last 12 months, over 2,500 pieces of EU legislation, that's 75 per cent of all new UK laws, have come into force, and our parliament is powerless to stop or alter any of them.

"On June 4, please lend us your vote. There can surely no longer be any question that Britain would be better off out."

No2EU: Yes to Democracy are a party that has pledged if elected, that their representatives will not sit in the European Parliament. They say: "We want to see a Europe of independent, democratic states that value its public services and does not offer them to profiteers, a Europe that guarantees the rights of workers and does not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe the current structures of the EU makes this impossible."

Other fringe parties standing in the elections include the British National Party, the Christian Party, the English Democrats, which will favour a national referendum to decide whether the UK should withdraw from the European Union; the Jury Team, which it says was created to make politics more accessible and politicians more accountable and also the Roman Party Ave!, which has one candidate.

KENT is a safe Conservative controlled council and is likely to remain so even after the elections.

Of the 84 seats being contested across the county, the Conservatives currently hold 56, Labour have 20 and the Liberal Democrats hold six. The remaining seat is held by an independent councillor.

The Kentish Times covers both Dartford and Gravesham districts of the Kent County Council, and part of the Sevenoaks District.

Within this, there are nine divisions, and a total of 61 candidates from parties including the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats and also candidates from the English Democrats the Green Party and the British National Party.

Once elected they will determine policies including education, transport, roads and social services.

The current leader of the Conservative party in Kent and the leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said: "The current economic outlook and the state of public finances undoubtedly means that belts will have to be further tightened in the public sector and specifically within the local government family.

"Kent Conservatives will yet again have to 'do more with less'. Radical solutions and efficiencies will continue to be found to carry on our journey of innovation and improvement to service delivery, working together in genuine partnership with our twelve districts, public agencies and the voluntary sector."

The Liberal Democrats have said that if elected, they will focus on six main areas, including fixing roads, kerbs, drains and pavements, making the county greener and making communities and the roads safer.

Their manifesto reads: "Kent County Council has been Conservative run for the last 10 years.

"Kent Lib Dems have been listening to what you have been telling us on the doorstep and you tell us there are six main areas where the conservatives have let you down."

The Labour Party leader Mike Eddy, said that over the past few years, Kent has been unable to see the benefits of the Labour Government because of the Conservative run county council.

He added: "The county council elections give us a real opportunity to make life better for everyone in Kent.

"Since May 1997, the Labour Government has invested billions of pounds in Kent, as it has nationwide.

"But in Kent we haven't seen the full benefit of Labour's investment, and that's because Kent County Council has been dominated by the out dated divisive policies of the Conservative Party.

"It's high time the people of Kent enjoyed the full benefits of a Labour government and only Kent Labour can bring these benefits to the county.

"Kent Labour will work to make life better for the many, not the few. We will use resources to get the greatest benefit for the most people. That's why voting for Kent Labour means you'll be voting for a better Kent.

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