Five candidates set out their stall for Fareham by-election

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Five candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for a by-election after the sitting councillor stood down for health reasons.

Fareham West councillor Diana Harrison triggered the by-election when she announced last month she was stepping down mid-term after a total of 18 years as a member of Fareham Borough Council.

Mrs Harrison polled 68 per cent of the vote at her last election in 2008, giving her a majority of nearly 1,400 votes over the Lib Dem candidate in second place.

Contesting the seat will be Tory Stephen Day, Green Peter Doggett, Labour's Michael Prior, Lib Dem Nick Gregory and UKIP's Steve Richards.

Mr Day has already been out canvassing, and said: 'I'm taking nothing for granted, but it has been going quite well.

'There has been some feedback about the cutbacks the government has had to make because of the previous government's misuse of resources. People aren't too happy, but they have been telling me they realise why they have to be made.'

Lib Dem candidate Nick Gregory stood last year as a Tory in county elections for the Portchester division where he was beaten by a Lib Dem.

Mr Gregory said: 'Basically I had a change of heart. I wanted to stand for Fareham West which is where I live and where I have my business, and I felt I could do that better as a Lib Dem.

'I feel local councillors are there to serve residents before a party. I feel that local elections are based on the personal needs of the residents of that ward, which is best supported by a candidate who has an active interest in the ward and the people they are standing for.'

Mr Prior was on the council for Fareham South from 1990 to 2002 and was the Labour group leader. He said: 'I think we are really campaigning to protect public services, particularly for the elderly, and we have a lot of elderly in Fareham West.

'I am an experienced councillor with the ability to do that on behalf of the people of Fareham West.

'We've been getting a friendly enough response on the doorstep, but we will be doing a lot more.'

Mr Richards has contested the seat twice before for UKIP. He came third in 2008, ahead of Labour, but dropped back to fourth place in 2010.

Mr Doggett represented the Green party for Fareham at May's general election where he came fifth.

Neither were available for comment.

The election will be held on December 9.

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