Once again the people of Gosport will turn out to the polls to elect their councillors for Hampshire County Council. Political reporter LOUGHLAN CAMPBELL looks at how the election may unfold.
Tensions are set to rise over the coming month as political parties face off to determine the outcome of Gosport’s future.
The borough’s four divisions have never truly been completely won over by a single party although the Conservatives will look to lay the biggest claim once the polls begin on May 4.
The Tories, who hold three out of the five seats, are looking to make their mark; however, Ukip, who fought them closely back in 2013, are seeking to mount a fightback.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats will seek to widen their share on divided political ground.
The Tories point to the transport improvements that have been brought forward, boosting access to Gosport, such as the dualling of the A27 between Segensworth to Fareham, work starting on Newgate Lane South later this year and the funds to kick-start the Stubbington Bypass project.
Meanwhile, Ukip insists that it is the party to lead a ‘strong opposition’ against the Tories and is raising its concerns over National Grid’s IFA2 project at Daedalus.
Tory councillor Graham Burgess, who was first elected for Lee back in 2011, was the biggest winner on the night in 2013, scooping 60 per cent of the public vote and beating nearest rival Ukip’s Curtis Sinclair by more than 1,200 votes.
On the upcoming election, Cllr Burgess said: ‘When you look at the past successes of the last year, such as Brexit and the work of Theresa May since she has been in power, I would argue that the Conservatives have had a very good year and that people will see that.
‘In the last four years, you can see that there have been some real successes from this Conservative administration that have affected Gosport.
‘Look at Newgate Lane South and the funding being committed for the Stubbington bypass.
‘These are two vital roads that this council has managed to achieve the funding for.
‘Lee is also very much affected by the successes at Daedalus and I have played my part in making that a major success.’
Fellow Tory councillor Peter Edgar, who has represented Leesland and Town since 2005, says keeping council tax down is one of his main priorities.
His comments come following the council agreeing to up the council tax by 4.99 per cent for the forthcoming tax year – equating to a £1 increase per week for Band D households across the county.
Cllr Edgar, who is the cabinet member for education, said: ‘One of my main priorities as one of the longest serving councillors will be to keep council tax down for our residents.’
Lib Dem councillor Peter Chegwyn has been a constant for Hardway on the council since 1985 and is outlining improvements to the A32, more job-creation schemes and increased efforts to tackle fly-tipping as his platform to be re-elected.
He said: ‘I have been a county councillor for 32 years having first been elected in 1985. I see my role as fighting to get Gosport the best possible deal at county level.
‘Conservative spending cuts are hitting local services hard and it is vital to have experienced and effective local campaigners on the council who can be trusted to speak up for their area and not just toe a party line.
‘If re-elected, I will continue to campaign for improvements to the A32, new investment in job-creation schemes, better play facilities for local children, better adult social care, the scrapping of charges at tips and a greater effort to clean-up Gosport and reduce fly-tipping.’
He pointed to his work in saving Elson Library from cuts, securing a new pelican crossing on the A32 by Brune Park school, the re-surfacing of Elson Road and securing £55,000 worth of grants for community groups.
John Bowles of Ukip Fareham & Gosport is running to be councillor for Leesland and Town.
He said: ‘There are parts of the town centre which are deprived and need some significant replenishment. At times it is like a sticking plaster has been placed over a six-inch wound with the improvements that have been delivered to our High Street.
‘If elected, I will campaign to bring those improvements to the town centre.’
He added that Ukip – which has ten councillors elected on the council currently – is the ‘only party’ to have pushed the Tory administration on delivering infrastructure improvements to accommodate large developments.
He added: ‘The Tories often talk about promises to deliver the infrastructure but all too often, they do not follow through with them.’
Labour’s Mark Smith, who is also standing in Leesland and Town said the party would give the fight to the other parties over their Bridgemary seat. Shaun Cully is standing down.
Mr Smith said: ‘Under this administration, Gosport has been at the bottom of the county’s priorities, we want to change that.’
Peter Hurworth, of Fareham and Gosport Green Party said: ‘The Green party is the only one whose reason for existence is the protection and betterment of the environment. We are the party who will be looking at improving air quality, providing more green spaces, encouraging local business and local employment.’ GOSPORT CANDIDATES
Alan Durrant, Labour
Stephen Hammond, Lib Dem
Nancy Hurworth, Greens
Stephen Philpott, Con
Stephen Thomas, Ukip
Piers Bateman, Con
Peter Chegwyn, Lib Dem
James Fox, Labour
LEE Graham Burgess, Con Sean Evans, Lib Dem
Peter Hurworth, Green
Stan Seymour, Ukip
Jill Whitcher, Labour
LEESLAND AND TOWN John Bowles & David Foster, Ukip Chris Carter & Peter Edgar, Con
Robert Hylands & Stephen Marshall, Lib Dem Mark Smith & Charis Noakes, Labour David Sekules & David Harrison, Green
There are five councillors elected across the four different Gosport divisions.
The public will take to the polls on Thursday May 4 with announcements on the Gosport results made after midnight at Gosport Leisure Centre.
To be eligible to vote and have your say in the elections, residents must be on the electoral register, having registered by Thursday, April 13.
To be eligible to vote and have your say in the elections, residents must be on the electoral register having been registered by Thursday April 13.
To register, visit gov.uk/register-to-vote. Contact Gosport Borough Council if you do not have internet access. If you cannot get to the polling station on election day, you can still vote by post or appoint someone (proxy) to vote on your behalf.
Applications for postal votes must be received by district and borough councils by April 18, 5pm and April 25, 5pm for proxy voters.
Information about how to vote, how to register to vote or check if you are already registered, is available from the Electoral Commission via yourvotematters.co.uk
Alternatively, phone 0333 103 1928 to obtain the information.