I visited the West Midlands town where residents say they can't cope

Residents of Walsall had concerns over immigration
-Credit: (Image: Saskia Masaun)

Residents in Walsall have outlined a series of problems the town is facing. Walsall is very much a battleground area - having previously had both Labour and Conservative MPs.

I visited to chat about the upcoming general election - and it seemed immigration was at the forefront of everyone's minds. Many locals from the area voiced their opinions about the issues they care most deeply about. Many residents spoke of immigration the NHS and the current housing crisis.

Mick Bell, 77, did not mince his words when it came to discussing immigration, he said ''For me it is illegal immigration, crossing the channel and paying France so much money for nothing''.

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Walsall has faced its challenges with immigration and is among many places where asylum seekers have been put up in hotels.

The arrival of the 210 men in 2022 half believed to be from Afghanistan highlighted complexities and strains on local resources and infrastructure and brought to the fore several critical challenges faced by the borough in managing immigration effectively.

Paul, 62, said immigration is the biggest issue in the country
Paul, 62, said immigration is the biggest issue in the country

However, immigration often provides an economic net benefit to the UK economy, as well as helping to maintain the working-age population while also plugging the current skills gap in many industries.

However, Walsall residents have not been feeling these benefits. Paul, 62, told BirminghamLive that immigration is a big part of what is wrong with the country. He said: ''It's all the extra resources when your kids can't get properties and you have all these other people coming in and then they are putting them in properties''.

He added: ''It's also the strain on the NHS, and education so immigration is the big thing''.

Kathleen Newton, 88, also mentioned immigration and when asked why that was important to her she said it's 'because other people are taking over the country'.

Along the high street were other residents who cared about issues such as the NHS, one resident Jeff Evans told me that he had been waiting nearly two years for an appointment.

If elected, one of Labour's promises for the NHS is an immediate priority on health and to get a grip on the record waiting list. Which means patients should expect to wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral for consultant-led treatment of non-urgent health conditions.

Whilst the Conservatives, want to focus on NHS funding and see through the New Hospital Programme to its completion, improve working conditions for staff and aim to abolish national insurance in the future, once it is “economically responsible”.

Jeff, 70, told us that he has a lot of dealings with the NHS and said it is 'on its knees'. He said: ''I've been waiting two years now for an appointment and it just makes me feel so frustrated''.

The candidates standing in the Walsall South constituency for the 2024 General Election are:

Independent - Aftab Nawaz

Reform UK - Elaine Ruth Williams

Liberal Democrats - Patrick Thomas Stillman

Green Party - Sadat Hussain

Labour Party - Valerie Vaz

Conservative and Unionist Party - Shannon Lloyd