Can the Conservatives in Fareham keep their stranglehold on power?

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OPPOSITION councillors and candidates in Fareham say they are hoping to make the most of unpopular decisions made by the ruling Tories.

Fareham Borough Council is currently ruled by the Conservatives who hold 23 seats, to the Lib Dems seven and one independent.

But in the past year, the council has pushed through controversial plans for 7,000 new homes north of Fareham.

And with 15 of the 31 seats up for grabs on May 3, there is everything to fight for.

Lib Dem Cllr David Norris, who is fighting to keep his Portchester East seat, said: ‘I think the decision about the new community will help any candidate who’s against it.

‘There’s still a lot of negative feelings out there about it, particularly in the north of the borough. I’m against it – it’s another community that will sprawl out from Fareham without the infrastructure, despite what’s being said about that.’

He added: ‘I think that if we keep to local issues and not get involved in national issues which we cannot do anything about, we will do alright.’

Tory Cllr David Swanbrow, sitting councillor for Sarisbury, defended the new homes, adding: ‘The new community will benefit the people of Fareham overall, it will prevent the building on any bit of available green space.

‘Every couple of years we survey a random selection of our population, and they agree that the council has been run extremely well, with 90 per cent of people being happy with it. I would be extremely surprised and very worried if the Conservatives lost control of Fareham.’

Labour, which has not had a councillor in Fareham for a decade, is fielding candidates in every ward apart from Stubbington.

Richard Ryan, who will contest Portchester East, said: ‘The coalition government is very unpopular and we’re emphasising that we are the only alternative. Even in Fareham, the Lib Dems failed to challenge the last budget, and we’re hoping to make a better showing this time.’