Published: 16:07, 25 November 2019
| Updated: 19:07, 25 November 2019
Conservative General Election candidate Gordon Henderson sparked fury today after saying on live TV there was nothing "personally" he could do for half the children in the area living in poverty.
He was on BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire programme broadcast from Indran Balachandran's Sheppey'z Piri Piri chicken restaurant in Sheerness High Street.
Mr Henderson, who has been MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey since 2010, said: "Poverty hasn't just happened over the last nine years.
"There are deep-rooted reasons why we have deprivation in certain areas of this constituency, including in Sheerness, and it goes back 50 years.
"It's been under Labour and Conservative administrations. A lot of it goes back to when they closed the dockyard here many years ago and it has never improved.
"I can't personally do anything about it."
In a later clash, Labour candidate Clive Johnson complained about "missed opportunities" when the town's steel mill closed and Mr Henderson snapped back: “Where were you when they (the workers) lost their pensions? I was marching in Westminster for them.”
Lib Dem candidate Ben J Martin, residents Ray Featherstone and Paul Codrington, and a member of the Brexit party from outside the area also took part.
Mum-of-three Evie Martin earlier had to abandon plans to stand as MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey after the party's leader Nigel Farage plug on candidates in constituencies with Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs.
Mad Mike Young of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party said he had been "snubbed" and Independent Lee McCall described the show as a "fiasco" because neither he nor fellow Independent Monique Bonney had been invited.
He stormed: "Once again, everyone has been let down."
Sri Lankan shop owner Mr Balachandran said the TV crew arrived the night before to set up and were back in at 7am. He said: "They visited a lot of shops, I think, and I offered to let them use mine because we don't normally open in the morning."
More by this authorJohn Nurden