THE race is on for Hampshire County Council seats as the names of candidates for the upcoming election are released.
In Winchester and the parishes around the city there are seven seats up for grabs.
The current political make-up of the County Council, following the last elections in May 2013 and five by-elections, is: Conservatives – 47, Liberal Democrats – 16, UKIP – 7, Labour – 4, Community Campaign (Hart) – 1, Non-affiliated – 2, Vacant - 1.
it would take a political earthquake for the Tories to lose control but the Winchester wards are likely to be keenly contested.
In each one of the seven wards, the Green Party have put forward a candidate, while UKIP have put forward one candidate and the Justice and Anti-Corruption party are fighting for a seat in the Winchester Eastgate ward with Teresa Skelton as candidate.
In Bishop’s Waltham, Rob Humby who holds a key role on the county council as a cabinet member may have to hold off a challenge from Liberal Democrat Lewis North.
Lib Dem Jackie Porter who is the current ward councillor for the Itchen Valley will battle with Ernie Jeffs.
In the Winchester Westgate ward, a battle of political heavyweights will see current Lib Dem County Councillor Martin Tod face-off against Tory Ian Tait, a city councillor since 1999.
Making a return to the political fore, will be former city councillor for Labour, Janet Berry, who along with Lib Dem Dominic Hiscock, who is a current Winchester city councillor, will be trying to claim the seat of Winchester Eastgate, currently held by Conservative Fiona Mather.
Another clash of heavyweights current city council cabinet member for Environment, Jan Warwick will battle the Winchester Downlands ward, with Eleanor Bell, also a current Winchester city councillor.
John Coughlan, county council chief executive, said: “County Council elections enable the democratic process to take place and provide an opportunity for members of the public to have their say at the ballot box.
"I would encourage everyone who is entitled to vote, to turn out and choose who they wish to represent them.”
The countywide election occurs every four years and voters in all 76 electoral divisions choose who they want to run service in their area - from education, roads and social care for vulnerable children and adults, to access to the countryside and libraries.
Voting takes place on May 4.
Councillors represent all the people within their divisions, decide how £1.9 billion of taxpayers’ money is spent annually, and make the policies to secure high quality services for the residents of, and visitors to Hampshire. They also provide a focus for local people when they have concerns or want things done.
To be eligible to vote residents must be on the electoral register, having registered by Thursday April 13.
To register, visit: gov.uk/register-to-vote; If you don’t have internet access, then contact your local district or borough council.
There are no elections this year for Winchester City Council.