HAVANT: Lib Dems hoping the Clegg effect will help them make progress

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The Liberal Democrats say they are hoping to make major inroads on Havant Borough Council because of the Nick Clegg effect.

The Conservatives' hold on the authority is the strongest in the county.

They dominate politics in the borough with just three seats each for Labour and the Liberal Democrats out of 38.

But Susan Stocker, leader of the Lib Dems, who will be fighting to hold on to her Leigh Park Bondfields seat, thinks the political landscape is about to change, particularly with the resurgence of her party thanks to leader Mr Clegg.

She said: 'People are watching the debates and I think that's made all the difference.

'It's opened people's eyes to the Liberal Democrats.

'I personally think it's very important that there's a good opposition to scrutinise the work of the leading group, it's good for politics and I hope we can build on our group in this election.

'At the moment it is frustrating and it would be good if we had a lot more seats but that is up to the electorate.'

The Lib Dems are fielding younger candidates in this election than the opposition which they hope will energise their campaign.

Labour leader Richard Brown, who will be fighting to keep hold of his Warren Park seat, fears that despite the good work of his Labour colleagues in the borough – Leigh Park especially – people will vote as in the General Election and give the party a bloody nose.

He said: 'I feel I've been good value for money over the past eight years and I've worked hard.

'But a lot of people feel they have been let down by politicians from all parties and personally I think we have been tarnished with the same brush as them even though I don't claim expenses, only my basic allowance.

'We do need a strong opposition in Havant and I hope we get it to break the stronghold the Tories have here.'

Tory leader Tony Briggs, who represents Cowplain, said he does not believe there will be a sea of yellow in the council chamber come May 7.

He said: 'I compare the Nick Clegg show to The X Factor. It's all about performance and no substance.

'What people really want to know is how bad are the country's finances and what are they going to do about it.'

And he said he is looking forward to next Thursday's battle, adding: 'We enjoy a fairly big majority but at some stage or another other parties are going to eat into that. I believe that every authority needs a good-quality opposition.'

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