UKIP is making its strongest challenge yet in the Winchester local elections.

The anti-Europe party is putting up 11 candidates in the 19 contests in the Winchester City Council election – a district which stretches from Micheldever to the edges of Portsmouth.

Its intervention could be important as the council is currently hung with the Conservatives and Lib Dems both on 27 seats, Labour on two and Independents on one.

At the last city council election in 2012 UKIP put up no candidates, two in 2011 and none in 2010.

UKIP is mainly contesting rural seats and are only fighting two in the six Winchester city wards during the election on May 22. Meanwhile the Greens are only contesting one seat while the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition are fighting two .

Former council leader Sheila Campbell is again contesting Swanmore and N e w t o w n , Karen Barratt, a former Lib Dem is standing as an independent in the St Paul ward.

Adrian Hicks, who memorably went public in 2009 with t h e sighting of an extra terrestrial in the High Street in 2004, is standing as an Independent in St John and All Saints. He resigned from the Lib Dems in 2011.

The Lib Dems are defending nine seats and the Conservatives, ten.

Several senior councillors are standing down: council leader Keith Wood and portfolio holder for housing Tony Coates, both Tories, former mayor Ray Pearce and fellow senior Lib Dem Brian Collin.