With Winchester electioneering well under way, the main political parties explain why they deserve your vote.

On May 5 thousands of residents will cast their votes in the local elections for Winchester City Council.

The council has 16 wards with two or three councillors representing each one, this year there will be one seat in 15 district wards up for election.

Nine of these seats are held by the Liberal Democrats who currently control the council with a 26 seat majority out of 44.

READ MORE: Who you can vote for in the Winchester election 2022 - full list of candidates

The remaining six seats up for election are held by Conservatives who hold 16 seats in total and act as the main opposition party.

The leader of the council, Councillor Lucille Thompson said the Liberal Democrats are having a ‘tremendously positive response’ on residents’ doorsteps.

"People are really liking what we’ve been doing in terms of recycling and our focus on the environment," she said.

"We want to trial low carbon bin lorries and electric buses but we need to work out how we provide the infrastructure.

"We’re also making great strides in our council house new build program, I think we’ve got about 130 being built right now and we’ve already completed 120 over the last couple of years.

"We’d like to carry on our improvements on the environment in the district and helping those most in need."

Councillor Caroline Horrill, leader of the opposition said that the Conservatives are the party ‘to get things done’.

"We’ve had three years of Liberal administration and no progress on any major projects," she said.

"We’re advocating for a financial regime that does not put a cost on our residents, the current administration has put up council tax and fees and charges by three per cent and raised parking charges wherever they can.

"We have indicated that we would rescind some of those charges where we’re able to and indeed before we stood on a zero per cent council tax increase – that would be our position for the future.

"One issue is the local plan, there was a lack of transparency on the number of houses the current administration will commit to and there’s been a lack of involvement of our parish councils to be involved in that consultation process.

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"The second point is the absolutely outrageous abuse of democratic power by agreeing to sell the river park leisure centre to the University of Southampton, not that decision per se but the fact they’ve failed to consult with residents.

Patrick Davies, Labour candidate for St Bartholomew’s ward said that residents have been missing a Labour voice in the council for years.

"The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives both run the council but the truth of the matter is that both of them have failed to deliver on a whole lot of issues,’ he said.

‘‘They don’t get a serious challenge which, when we had a labour group on the council, were able to do.

"The issue of housing is a desperate situation across the whole district because house prices are so absurdly high.

"Struggling to provide housing to the next generation is one of the real nightmares because local people pine that their children cannot stay locally.’

Malcolm Wallace, Green Party candidate for Central Meon Valley said his party is all about ‘fairness and community, while protecting the places we live and the people we care about’.

"These values are resonating with communities up and down the country. Across England and Wales, there are now over 460 elected Green councillors, a number set to rise on 5th May.

"Other candidates are told how to vote by their Party, Greens are free to speak up for what’s best for our area, including defending our green spaces against over-development. 

"Greens work hard all year round, listening to residents and then taking action to support our communities.’

Cost of living crisis

Rising costs of living have become a major political issue in the foreground of the local elections this year. 

Cllr Thompson said that people on fixed incomes and the most vulnerable ‘are really worried’.

"How are they going to pay for an £800 rise in fuel costs – for some of them it will mean heating or eating," she said.

"We’re really keen to help people with the current cost of living crisis and we’ve put more money in our council tax hardship fund so if people are really struggling they can contact us.

"We’ve maintained our grants budget so we’re funding our core organisations that really provide support to those who need it most in our communities."

Cllr Horrill shares concerns over the cost of living crisis and has been ‘very proactive’ in distributing grants the government has allocated.

"We have supported additional money in our Winchester budget to give extra support for those in hardship,’ she said.

"We have an enhanced council tax refund scheme that my predecessor implemented which puts more money in the pot for officers to distribute.

"We are trying locally to provide more money for our residents, those, particularly in need."

Mr Davies said that residents have been very receptive to Labour’s campaigns due to rising living costs.

"It comes up every day and people know that it can only be solved nationally,’ he said.

"Keir Starmer has called for an emergency budget to help households, that’s really what we need and to scrap the national insurance hike and further business rate cuts and serious money for insulation in homes which has been ignored completely.

Hampshire Chronicle: A polling station sign in north London..

"Also a windfall tax on the profits of the oil and gas producers – that would be a serious approach to dealing with the hardships people are facing."

Mr Wallace stressed that energy efficiency measures would help people in hardship reduce their heating bill.

"It’s difficult to believe that the Government’s Energy Strategy that was presented earlier this month made no mention of energy efficiency,’ he said.

"A rollout of a nationwide programme to insulate people’s homes would be great for the economy, reduce carbon emissions and help keep homes warm. 

"An insulation programme doesn’t sound very glamorous, but it can deliver something incredible – a warm home even on the coldest of days with a much-reduced heating bill."

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Kimberley Barber