Once again the people of Fareham 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.
Talk of a potential Liberal Democrat fightback in Fareham has been touted as candidates begin their bids to get your votes in next month’s Hampshire County Council election.
The election in 2013 saw the rise of Ukip, as the party won 10 seats in total – taking them from both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.
Following, the aftermath of Brexit, the future of the party has been called into question with both the Tories and the Lib Dems keen to win back their seats on May 4.
The Lib Dems, led by long-standing Portchester county councillor Roger Price are hoping borough candidates can mirror a national surge towards the party from across the county, while the Tories – who hold a 31-seat majority on the council – are championing a number of transport improvements to the borough that have been made under their administration.
Labour – who gained three seats across the county in 2013 – are pushing to grab at least one seat in the borough, while Ukip insists it can be the credible opposition to the Tories.
And the Greens are calling for better public transport and more environmental considerations in planning.
Councillor Sean Woodward, who has held the Sarisbury division since 2005, pointed to the various road improvements in the borough he won during his time as cabinet member for transport.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘In my role as county councillor, I have striven to improve the lives of many residents.
‘I have secured the funding for millions of pounds worth of transport improvements such as the dualling of the A27 between Segensworth and Fareham, and the Stubbington Bypass.
‘You can never afford to be complacent as a councillor and take your role for granted. I provide residents with regular updates, as you should always endeavour to aid your constituents.’
Fareham Town is set to be a hotly-contested seat with Ukip and the Lib Dems pushing the Tories all the way in 2013.
The division provides two seats, which has seen George Ringrow and current councillor Chris Matthews step away from the role.
Cllr Matthews – who has been in the role for a year – said his decision was fuelled by ‘mainly personal reasons’ with borough councillor Fred Birkett standing in his place.
The seat will be ‘strongly contested’ by the Lib Dems according to Cllr Price, who is hoping that this year will see the opposition hit back in Fareham.
He said: ‘This will be the year of the Lib Dem fightback. If you look across Hampshire, I can see the party securing seats across the county. We are going to take them from Ukip and the Tories.
‘Ukip are fading out of it as they are changing leaders every six months at the moment and I think people realise that we are the only alternative option to the Tories and are therefore the only party that can really take control.’
The Lib Dems struggled in 2013, as besides Cllr Price’s huge win in Portchester, the party struggled to challenge to the Tories.
Cllr Price said that he remains ‘committed’ to the people of Portchester, adding: ‘People know me as the man to come to in Portchester for any issue.
‘I’m always out and about and my inbox is always full.’
He pointed towards Crofton as the big seat that parties will be pushing for.
The seat has come under the spotlight since Councillor Chris Wood defected from Ukip to the Tories last November. The councillor – who won the seat with more than half the public vote – has since lost his chance to stand for re-election after he was not selected by his own party and lost an appeal against the decision.
Pal Hayre will be the Conservative candidate for the seat. Ukip believes it has a strong presence in the area, and Jim Forrest of the Lib Dems is also vying for the coveted division.
John Bowles, of Ukip Fareham & Gosport, who is standing for Leesland and Town in Gosport, said: ‘We remain confident about Crofton. It is an area that the previous candidate did very well in and we know that we have strong support there.’
He said: ‘Ukip has been the only party on this council that have pushed to make sure we have infrastructure improvements to accommodate the need for these large developments.
‘The Tories often talk about promises to deliver the infrastructure but all too often, they don’t follow through with them. You need to make sure you have an opposition that pushes for these improvements.’
Richard Ryan of Fareham Labour Party, who is standing in Fareham Town, said: ‘We are calling to end the crisis in adult social care and end bed-blocking. More money needs to be spent in that area.
‘We are also saying no to grammar and free schools, it is not the right way to look at education moving forward.’
Peter Hurworth of Fareham and Gosport Green Party said: ‘The Greens is the only party whose reason for existence is the protection and betterment of the environment.
‘We are the party which rises in the morning and retires at night with thoughts of air quality, green space, better public transport, safe cycling and walking, local businesses and local employment.’
Jim Forrest, Lib Dem
Pal Hayre, Con Rosemary Hobbs, Green
Les Ricketts, Labour
Kim Rose, Ukip
Geoff Fazackarley, Con
Roger Price, Lib Dem
Stuart Rose, Labour
Sean Woodward, Con
Ben Powell, Lib Dems
James Sebley, Labour
Norman Pasley, Green
Geoffrey Hockley, Con
Martin Francis, Lib Dem
Michael Prior, Labour
Fred Birkett, Con
Peter Latham, Con
Shaun Cunningham, Lib Dem
Gerry Kelly, Lib Dem
Andrew Mooney, Labour
Richard Ryan, Labour
David Harrison, Green
Dilys Harrison, Green
Keith Evans, Con
Jim Palmer, Lib Dem
Tony Blewett, Ukip
James Carr, Labour
Miles Grindley, Green
There are seven councillors elected across the six different Fareham wards.
The public will take to the polls on Thursday, May 4 with announcements on the Fareham results made after midnight at Ferneham Hall.
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 Fareham 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.
Further information for residents on how to vote, how to register for a vote or to check if you are already registered, head to yourvotematters.co.uk