VOTERS across the Winchester district will be heading to the polls this time next week for the city council elections.

This year’s vote has the potential to shake up the council due to a number of councillors stepping down in their wards, and two big-hitters going up against each other for one seat.

Long-serving Conservative councillor Patricia Stallard has stepped down in Denmead, while Liberal Democrat Richard Izard will be leaving his post in Colden Common and Twyford.

In addition, Conservative-turned-Lib Dem councillor Kim Gottlieb will be stepping down as the Alresford and Itchen Valley representative to take on Conservative councillor and current finance portfolio holder, Guy Ashton, for the St Michael seat.

READ: Full list of candidates standing in the Winchester City Council election>>>

Both have been key players in Winchester politics, with Cllr Ashton overseeing the council’s budget and the finances of major projects in the city. Meanwhile, Cllr Gottlieb’s actions saw the original Silver Hill regeneration project scuppered, leading to the second attempt currently being progressed.

Following last year’s election, Cllr Gottlieb switched from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems, with a brief period as an independent councillor, in a move that put council leader Caroline Horrill’s position in jeopardy. With the numbers shifting in their favour, the Lib Dems launched a bid to oust Cllr Horrill, only for then-Lib Dem Jamie Scott to switch to the Tories during the vote and save her job.

Coincidentally, Cllr Horrill will be hoping to re-secure her Wonston and Micheldever seatwhen the polls close on Thursday evening.

The Tories are defending ten seats and the Lib Dems, six. The current make-up is 23 Conservatives to 22 Lib Dems.

Former councillors Ian Tait and Patrick Davies (Con and Lab, respectively) will be hoping to regain a seat on the council by beating Lib Dem councillor Derek Green in St Luke.