Plastic bag charge to be introduced in England

 

Ed Davey: "Try to avoid this charge, we want you to re-use your plastic bags"

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A 5p charge for plastic bags in England is to be introduced by the government in a bid to discourage their use.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to unveil the plans at the Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend.

Ministers are said to be concerned at the environmental impact of the bags, particularly on waterborne animals.

The charge, which will only apply to supermarkets and larger stores, will begin after the 2015 election, with the proceeds going to charities.

A similar charge applying to the single-use carrier bags made from both plastic and paper is already in effect in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, this week announced he was not going ahead with plans to raise the levy to 10p per bag, because the present arrangements were proving successful.

He said data from major supermarkets showed there had been an 80% reduction in plastic bag use since the levy was brought in.

Retailers in Scotland will start charging for bags in October 2014.

According to Liberal Democrat sources, the charge in Wales, which began in 2011, has seen the use of plastic bags drop by roughly 75%.

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said his party had faced opposition to the scheme from the Conservatives.

He said the charge would only raise "pretty small amounts" for charity, as its intention was to get people to reduce the amount they use.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "It is a huge environmental step forward.

'Tough times'

"We are very clear that none of this money will come to government, we are not trying to tax people, we are trying to change people's behaviour, encourage much more environmentally-friendly behaviour."

Start Quote

This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain ”

End Quote Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said there was enthusiasm for the plans among major retailers but there had been opposition from government colleagues.

Speaking on a visit to Cathkin Marsh nature reserve, near Glasgow, he said that plastic bags were often used for just a few minutes but "take 1,000 years to degrade".

He said: "That's not just bad for the environment, they are a terrible eyesore on our beautiful countryside. They cause a lot of suffering for animals, particularly marine wildlife."

Mr Clegg said he hoped any money raised by the levy would be donated to environmental charities.

He added: "Of course there are debates in government on something like this, this is a big change. But it's one that I was very keen to do and I think we will now do it - not overnight, it will happen by the end of 2015.

"But I think very quickly, just as in the way people are accepting it in Wales where there has been an up to 80% drop in the use of plastic bags, people will get used to it and support it."

Andy Walker from the campaign group, Keep Britain Tidy, said that free plastic bags came with a "cost to the environment".

"Our supporters up and down the country end up cleaning bags from water courses, from beaches, from the High Street... so we believe it'll reduce the incidence of bags there," he said.

"But it will also influence behaviour change - people will start to take reusable bags with them to the supermarket and that will actually make a big difference to the environment."

But Matthew Sinclair, from the Taxpayers' Alliance, said the charge was an unnecessary measure that would have little impact on overall waste.

"This is not just a small share of waste, this is a tiny share of waste," he said.

"And I don't think that for every problem the answer is a new tax.

Supermarket checkout Supermarkets have already been encouraging customers to reduce their use of carrier bags

"There are already a number of different schemes to encourage people to think about using reusable bags, there are other schemes which involve using the carrot rather than the stick of a new tax."

Craig Bennett, policy and campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said: "A plastic bag charge is welcome news, but let's not get carried away.

"This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain and can't disguise the government's woeful green record."

He said tougher action and ambitious targets were needed to to cut waste, boost recycling and "bring England in line with the rest of the UK and much of Europe".

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said ministers acknowledged that shoppers may be unhappy about the prospect of the charge in what are "tough times" but the coalition believed it needed to tackle their use.

A number of supermarkets already encourage customers to limit their use of carrier bags by giving them loyalty points for providing their own. Marks & Spencer charges 5p for its plastic carrier bags, donating the profits to charities and education projects, but still gives out smaller bags.

Charities involved in clearing up the environmental damage caused by plastic bags will benefit from money raised by the new charge.

Groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage have long called for a charge. They said plastic bags littered England's streets and countryside.

The bags, they say, have proved harmful to wildlife which become entangled in them or think they are food.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 813.

    763.Richie rich
    Yes, but it's a easy fix unlike those more important concerns, so why not fix it?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 812.

    All these people saying, “Just leave a few bags in the boot of your car.”

    Good idea…but…

    I am on ESA and having been hit with Bedroom Tax, Council Tax etc…

    I DON’T OWN A CAR.

    So I have to carry empty bags everywhere now too?

    And why is it my local huge Tesco has done away with their Bag Recycling point? I used to collect them up and recycle, now they go in the bin!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 811.

    The message is very simple: come to see how it works in Wales where the transition was pretty seamless and accepted very widely. The Taxpayers Alliance doesn't get it: it's NOT a new tax, it's an incentive to change your behaviour. Re-use your bags for shopping. It's not rocket science, England, you WILL get used to it.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 810.

    Most of the plastic that is floating around in the ocean is pelletized, in other words it is lost AFTER recycling!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 809.

    It might remind me to take along my 10p "bags for life", though I also always re-use the flimsy bags. Nobody mentioned that these biodegradable flimsies are NOT recyclable (biodegradable bags break down - you cant re-use the plastic as it will decay). The plastic never disappears, though - small particles apparently stay in the soil or water for ever. So it is better if we reduce the bags we use.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 808.

    Suck it up! The bags should just be BANNED anyway, get your shopping home your own way, you'll soon remember your own bags then. Stop whining, you don't have to pay it if you don't want to..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 807.

    #532 because they can't afford wheely bins like the rest of us. #443 don't you understand that ALL stores will have to charge 5p, stop the rebellious child syndrome and become an adult. #188 just let the scheme go ahead more money for charities may be they will change their attitude knowing where some of the moneys coming from. Looking at the positive and stop trying to be clever.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 806.

    750. Whitefall

    "Animals shouldn't be put before human beings. End of discussion."
    ===
    It depends on your intention.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 805.

    Heck I don't mind paying for them up front, they are very useful. Its going to be hilarious spotting the poor by their tatty recycled bags.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 804.

    @794

    There is a clear difference between interest and a 5p charge for use of plastic carrier bags. I still use plastic bags and I don't mind the charge but I am certainly against 4000% APR loans.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 803.

    re 787 - it depends on your lifestyle how much goes into each bin. I cook all my food from scratch, so have lots of veg peelings. I am sure that ready meal families have more trays in their non-recycle bin. My cats use a litter tray, so there is waste there. My yogurt pots cannot be recycled but my husband's cereal box can. Don't preach that your bin is emptier than others might be.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 802.

    5p? They cost between 18¢ and 25¢ (15p to 21p) in Malta; and you just know that anything above 18¢c is not finding its way to the Treasury!
    Many of the smaller retailers did away with plastic carrier bags altogether when the tax was introduced, and began to use plastic bags without handles; there are just as many plastic bags about now, without the convenience of handles.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 801.

    Another way would be to offer the shopper the choice of money off the bill dependent on how many bags they re-used , or if they wish that money to go to charity . The idea of having to pay for advertising a supermarket is rather galling

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 800.

    I agree with the basic premise that we should reduce the number of plastics bags we use, but instead of trying to engineer around the problem, why does the government ban the supermarkets from using plastic bags and compell us to use paperbags like the Americans do.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 799.

    In response to David (787). My council stipulates that rubbish should be wrapped before it goes into the wheelie bin. Supermarket carriers are ideal for this.

  • rate this
    +35

    Comment number 798.

    I use my supermarket plastic bags for getting rid of rubbish - fortnightly bin collection needs wrapping to keep smells in and flies out. So I will now have to buy plastic rubbish bags.

    Supermarkets used to have a bagging area with empty cardbord boxes to use to transport stuff away, suppose that was stopped in the name of health and safety

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 797.

    Why not re-introduce the paper bags we used to be able to use? They're biodegradable and pose no threat to birds, can be recycled and babies can't suffocate in them

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 796.

    Could do as the Americans and use brown paper carriers for those who forget the Eco carrier.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 795.

    So the money raised will go to "charity" who decides which charity? Some charities pay their executives £100,000+, they will not be getting my money, far better to fine the many litter louts who make our towns and countryside into rubbish dumps. Driving past a local playing field last week the areas around the goalposts were covered in discarded water bottles despite their being many bins!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 794.

    Bringing this charge in has resulted in an 80% reduction elsewhere. It still means 20% are buying these bags and I wonder if these are the same people who are quite happy to pay the interest on credit cards or pay day loans.

    Quite simply some people would still pay for bags if they were charged £5 rather than 5p...

 

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  53.  
    10:58: Cameron speech

    We must continue to cut the deficit, the PM says. It is not easy but it is absolutely deliverable.

    He says that in the next two years the Conservatives will find a further £13bn of reductions to departmental spending; they will find £12bn of savings in the welfare budget; and they will find £5bn by continuing to make sure the government goes after aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion.

     
  54.  
    10:57: The Mirror

    Jack Blanchard writes: 101 days to General Election. Here are 101 promises broken by ConDem Coalition government.

     
  55.  
    10:50: Cameron speech
    David Cameron

    Mr Cameron pledges that those earning a yearly income of less than £12,500 will not pay income tax. He also says the Conservatives will increase the 40p income tax threshold.

     
  56.  
    10:45: Cameron speech

    David Cameron says the Conservatives aim to help people by cutting their taxes. "I am a practical, down-to-earth, common-sense Conservative."

     
  57.  
    10:43: Breaking News

    David Cameron has started his campaign speech: "What we want to achieve is greater security for everyone and every family."

     
  58.  
    10:36: Cameron speech

    David Cameron is about to speak in Bursledon, Hamsphire, where he will set out the Conservative Party's third manifesto theme, a Britain that rewards work. You can watch the speech live by clicking on the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

     
  59.  
    10:27: Campaign countdown
    Labour MP Mike O'Brian

    There are marginal constituencies across the UK that will signpost which way this election will go. Our Midlands political editor, Patrick Burns, is in Coleshill in Warwickshire - the second most marginal seat in Britain with a Conservative majority of just 54. Labour Parliamentary candidate Mike O'Brian says he thinks it will be a Labour-Tory fight. He says the government's planned high-speed rail route could be a major issue affecting voters.

     
  60.  
    10:14: Polling matters BBC News Channel

    Is a hung Parliament the most likely outcome of the general election?

    More from Ipsos Mori's Ben Page: "A hung Parliament seems to be the most likely outcome... It could change but in 2005 the polls in January were pretty accurate predictions of what happened in May.

    "Polls are just what people are saying now. But the ones that were done in the week of the election back in 2010 were accurate to about plus or minus 1.1% for each party, which I think you'd agree is pretty good actually."

     
  61.  
    #nofracking trending on Twitter

    @suesmee tweets: As my MP, I'd like @neil_mp to vote against Cuadrilla getting the right to drill under my home - without my permission! #nofracking

    @loobylou43 tweets: I'm really hoping my MP @andrewpercy will vote for amendment 51 to the #infrastructurebill today #nofracking

     
  62.  
    10:06: Polling matters BBC News Channel
    Ben Page

    Ben Page, head of the research company Ipsos Mori, has been talking about polls leading up to the election: "Over the last month or so effectively what you've seen is Labour maybe one point ahead of the Conservatives.

    "That is a change on a year ago and they've gradually seen their lead evaporate effectively - but they are neck and neck and nobody seems to come up with something that allows them to break free of the other. It's a war of the weak in a sense."

     
  63.  
    10:04: 100 Constituencies Matthew Price BBC News

    Two interesting comments from voters here in Thurrock. First Harris, a scrap metal dealer. "What people are worried about has changed in the last five to 10 years." That will affect their vote he believes. He's voting UKIP. Second from Linda at Slimming World. "If my dad was alive and I told him I was going to vote anybody else but Labour he'd lynch me. But now you've got so many different parties. Green party, UKIP, what-have-you." It's going to be an unpredictable election.

    The BBC's Today programme will be visiting 100 constituencies between now and polling day.

     
  64.  
    09:56: Greek election fallout

    The right-wing Independent Greeks party has agreed to form a coalition with the Syriza party - which won Sunday's election. You can find out all the latest on this developing story and its implications on the BBC's dedicated Greece live page.

     
  65.  
    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: re: cameron hoax call, 'blagging' has been an offence since 2000 under the Data Protection Act 1998...

     
  66.  
    09:47: Hoax calls BBC Radio 4 Today
    Jon Culshaw

    Listen as comedian Jon Culshaw relives the moment he successfully hoax called Tony Blair as he impersonated William Hague, then leader of the opposition. It follows the headline from the The Sun newspaper from a drunk man claiming to have "just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ". The caller says the country's surveillance agency, who gave him the personal mobile number of their boss, also got through to the Prime Minister David Cameron.

     
  67.  
    09:41: Breaking News Mark Lowen BBC News, Athens

    It took just an hour of talks between two party leaders for the coalition to be formed. Greece's new government will comprise the leftists Syriza and a rightwing party, Independent Greeks, also fiercely anti-bailout but far more hardline on other policies such as immigration. Alexis Tsipras will see the President later today and be asked to to form a government. He will then argue he has the democratic mandate to revoke the budget cuts and persuade Europe to write off a portion of Greek debt. It'll meet a cool reception from Brussels and Berlin. Tough negotiations lie ahead to find a compromise that prevents Greece from defaulting on its debt: something that could threaten the country's place in the Euro.

     
  68.  
    09:36: Lord Mandelson warning
    Lord Mandelson

    Labour peer Lord Mandelson is warning today that his party must plan properly for a possible coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He tells the Guardian that while an outright victory is still possible, it is not defeatism to consider the consequences of a failure to win a majority.

     
  69.  
    09:33: Your comments: Fracking

    An influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. Paul writes: This is absolutely correct. We need to do the right thing out of principle. The only justification for fracking is greed and short term gain. Tim comments: This group of MPs is called influential. Influential but ignorant would be closer to the mark and that's a scary combination.

    Add your views via the comments module on our news story.

     
  70.  
    09:26: NHS concerns Hugh Pym Health editor

    Looking further ahead - the really big question for all parties is how they will fund the NHS over the next five years, particularly at a time, seemingly, of continued austerity. There's also an increasing and aging population, and patients are looking for better access to new drugs.

     
  71.  
    09:21: Questions for Nick
    Nick Robinson

    Are politicians delivering what you want? The BBC's Nick Robinson will be holding a Facebook Q&A about democracy - linked to his current Radio 4 series - at 13:30 GMT.

     
  72.  
    09:17: Campaign issues

    With 101 days to go the BBC has been finding out what issue most concerns you ahead of the election. The NHS emerged as the most important issue for those surveyed, ahead of the economy and immigration.

    Stats
     
  73.  
    09:15: Digital democracy
    House of Parliament

    We have been reporting on the launch of the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy this morning. In addition to encouraging online voting and more public participation in debates, one of its five objectives is to "ensure that everyone can understand" what the House of Commons does by 2020. As part of this, it says parliamentary language and procedures should be "simplified".

     
  74.  
    09:10: Hoax call to No 10
    Priti Patel

    Speaking to the BBC about the hoax call made to David Cameron, Treasury minister Priti Patel says "the most important thing right now is that no sensitive information was disclosed". She also stresses there will be a "full investigation" into what happened.

     
  75.  
    09:08: 100 constituencies Matthew Price BBC News
    Colin

    If Conservatives are to see off a double challenge from both UKIP and Labour in Thurrock they'll need core voters like Colin the car dealer to stick with them. He says he wants the current economic policy to continue so he does want David Cameron back in.

    (There is more on the BBC Today programme's 100 constituencies feature at 0755)

     
  76.  
    09:00: Archive treat 100: Robin Day v George Brown Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Each day from now until 7 May we'll be bringing you a classic election clip from the BBC archives. We've already selected a fair few but do feel free to suggest some via email at politics@bbc.co.uk or via Twitter @bbcpolitics. Here's the first one -

    Robin Day interviewing George Brown

    If you think it all used to be honey and roses for political interviewees here's an election night clip from 1964 as BBC host Robin Day gets on the wrong side of the deputy leader of the Labour Party, George Brown, when quizzing him on the potential nationalisation of the steel industry.

     
  77.  
    08:56: Osborne full interview BBC Radio 4 Today

    The full BBC interview with Chancellor George Osborne is now online.

    Reacting to the anti-austerity party Syriza's win in the Greek elections, Mr Osborne told Today: "If your economy has shrunk you are going to look for other answers...the things the new government has promised, it's going to be very difficult to deliver."

    On Europe he added: "The institutions of the Eurozone are not working well enough for the people of Europe...people get tired of economic failure and rising unemployment."

     
  78.  
    BBC Politics

    tweets: The 2015 general election will be unlike any other http://bbc.in/1D8M48K

     
  79.  
    08:49: Fracking concerns BBC News Channel

    Joan Walley, chairwoman of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, has told the BBC that they want the move to shale gas to be put on hold because of environmental and safety concerns. You can read more about their report here.

    Joan Walley
     
  80.  
    @robinbrant Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: It's back in action, up and running, primed for daily updates. The @BBCPolitics elex countdownerer @ChrisMasonBBC

    White board
     
  81.  
    Imelda Flattery BBC News

    tweets: Alexis Tsipras expected to speak to gathered journalists shortly. #Greece

    Media scrum
     
  82.  
    08:29: Greek election fallout

    More from the BBC's interview with Yanis Varoufakis, an economist who stood for Greece's Syriza party in the elections. He says a Greek exit from the eurozone is "not on the cards", and the party is not going to go to Brussels "in a confrontational style".

     
  83.  
    BBC Radio 4 Today

    tweets: 'We will take a plan to the #eurozone to minimise this Greek debacle' #Syriza candidate Yanis Varoufakis #R4today

     
  84.  
    08:22: New role for Lord Smith
    Lord Smith

    Lord Smith of Kelvin is to take on another high-profile role, after agreeing to chair of one of Scotland's largest regeneration projects. Lord Smith, who chaired the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution, will lead Clyde Gateway on delivering the post-2014 Commonwealth Games legacy. The work focuses on regenerating Glasgow's east end. Lord Smith was chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee and has a number of other top roles. They include chairing Forth Ports and the Green Investment Bank. He will take up his new unpaid role as chairman of Clyde Gateway next month

     
  85.  
    08:18: Hoax call to No 10 Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    No 10 stress the PM's phone number was not given out to the hoaxer. However he was put through to the PM by the switchboard.

     
  86.  
    @BBCGen2015 BBC Generation 2015

    tweets: DEADLINE: Just 1 week for 18-24s to sign up to @BBCGen2015 to take part in BBC Election progs

     
  87.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor

    tweets: The Speaker wants you to be able to join in MPs debates & vote online. Good idea? Join in my Q&A on F'book at 1.30 (read more about the online voting plans)

     
  88.  
    08:10: 100 constituencies
    Working men's club

    This will help you put a face to some of the voices in Matthew Price's pre-election package from a working men's club in Tilbury, Thurrock (see 0755). Clearly this was pre-recorded, they weren't drinking on Monday morning.

     
  89.  
    08:05: Hoax call to No 10 BBC Radio 5 live

    The Surveillance Camera Commissioner for England and Wales Tony Porter has told 5 Live Breakfast that the hoax calls to GCHQ and Downing Street were a "concern" and it "doesn't reassure the public and the community". He also said "there'll be a lot of work to eradicate [it]".

     
  90.  
    Andy Burnham Shadow health secretary

    tweets: Warning from @nhsconfed & @LGAcomms about crisis in NHS & care. Labour's 10 year-plan, out tomorrow, offers solution> http://bit.ly/1wxprWw

     
  91.  
    @RobbieGibb

    tweets: On today's #bbcdp - @DouglasCarswell (UKIP), @spelmanc (Con), Andy Slaughter (Lab) and @MartinChelt (Lib Dem)

     
  92.  
    07:55: 100 constituencies BBC Radio 4 Today

    The BBC's Matthew Price has been at a working men's club in Tilbury, Thurrock as part of the Today programme's tour of 100 constituencies in the run-up to the general election. One voter says the Tories have "sold England off, never vote for them" but won't vote UKIP as they are too far "anti-immigration". At a nearby slimming club, one woman says she is undecided and may not vote for the party her family has traditionally supported: "You've got so many different parties, at the end of the day you have to weigh up what is right for you".

     
  93.  
    07:51: Greece dominates papers
    Telegraph/Times front pages

    Many of today's newspapers concentrate on the fallout from the dramatic general election in Greece - won by the left-wing anti-austerity Syriza party. The BBC's paper review gives a roundup of reports.

     
  94.  
    07:44: Hoax caller to No 10 Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Incredible as it may seem the prankster managed to obtain mobile numbers for both the head of the GCHQ surveillance centre and the prime minister by bluffing his way past both sets of switchboards. Having been put through to the GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan, he then rang the Sun newspaper to boast of his exploits. According to The Sun he told them "he'd made monkeys" out of GCHQ despite being high on drink and drugs. Not satisfied with all that, the hoaxer then succeeded in getting put through to the prime minister. No 10 say Mr Cameron realised "within a matter of seconds" it was a hoax call and put the phone down. They also say no sensitive information was disclosed - and that they have no reason to believe the caller was anything other than a prankster. Nevertheless in an era of heightened terror alert and anxious political debate over increased surveillance - it would suggest simple human error can be a greater vulnerability.

     
  95.  
    07:42: Greek election fallout

    More from Chancellor George Osborne on the Greek election result: "Ultimately if you take at face value all the things that the new Greek government has promised - including big increases in public expenditure - you know, I think that is going to be very difficult to deliver, and incompatible with what the Eurozone currently demands of its members. But I hope that both sides now act responsibly."

     
  96.  
    @bbcNormanS Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

    tweets: Syriza elex victory in Greece is "just the latest chapter in eurozone crisis " - George Osborne @bbcr4today

     
  97.  
    07:24: George Osborne interview BBC Radio 4 Today

    Chancellor George Osborne is quizzed about the recent defection of UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir to the Conservatives. Mr Bashir was suspended by UKIP over various allegations - all of which he denies - shortly before announcing his defection on Saturday.

    Asked about the MEP's past, Mr Osborne told the BBC: "I am certainly not aware of something that I should be worried about."

     
  98.  
    07:16: Greek election fallout

    The landslide Syriza victory in the Greek elections means there are some tough eurozone negotiations on the horizon. The Open Europe blog breaks down what could happen next, and what all of this means for Greece, the eurozone and the EU.

     
  99.  
    07:11: Fracking warning
    A shale gas test well

    An influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The government's drive for shale gas should be put on hold because it would lead to more reliance on fossil fuels, the Environmental Audit Committee said.

     
  100.  
    07:07: 100 constituencies BBC Radio 4 Today

    In what's shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections ever, where the prospects of smaller parties and local results could be more crucial than ever in determining who governs Britain, Today will be visiting 100 different constituencies between now and polling day. Recent opinion polls suggest the key barometer seat of Thurrock is now a three way marginal between the Tories, Labour and UKIP. Our correspondent Matthew Price went to hear how voters feel about the pending election.

     

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