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Many voters in Southampton and Hampshire still undecided ahead of local elections
IT’S all to play for.
A mass poll conducted by the Daily Echo shows that with the local elections just days away, many residents in Hampshire still haven’t made up their minds about who to vote for.
And the survey, carried out in four areas of the county over the past week, also shows that UKIP are enjoying a surge in popularity ahead of Thursday’s elections.
We spoke to 1,000 people, spread across all four authorities, to see how they were voting.
Just over a tenth of people asked were not even aware that elections were taking place, but 691 of those asked said they would be voting, while 73 said they were undecided.
However there is likely to be a low turnout this week, with the last city council elections in Southampton in 2012 producing a turnout of 30.5 per cent and Eastleigh returning one of 35.46 per cent.
Our poll results also show that many votes are still there to be fought for, with 161 of the 691 people saying they will definitely vote yet to make up their mind.
Across the four councils, UKIP came second only to the Conservatives in terms of who residents say they will vote for, with 126 people saying they would choose the party.
Many voters told the Daily Echo they would vote for UKIP council candidates because of the UK’s place in Europe, and the impact of immigration.
And one senior Labour councillor in Southampton told the Echo: “A lot of people are telling us they are considering voting for UKIP over us and the other parties because of Europe.
“It’s not really fair, because as a council we can’t affect the UK’s place in the EU.”
Two years after seizing control of the city council in Southampton and in spite of passing unpopular service cuts, our poll shows the party has retained support among some residents.
Of the 400 people polled in the city, 62 said they would be voting Labour, in comparison to 52 for UKIP and 48 for the Conservatives, who Labour replaced.
The Liberal Democrats topped our poll in Eastleigh, where the party has been in power since 1994.
Of the 200 people asked, 36 said they would choose the Lib Dems, while 33 picked UKIP in a town which has been targeted by the Eurosceptic party in recent years.
The balance of power is finely poised in Winchester, with both the minority Conservative administration and Lib Dems having 27 seats.
And with ten Conservative seats and nine Lib Dem wards up for grabs at the election, the contest is too close to call.
That is borne out in our poll, which shows that 35 of 200 people asked in the city would currently choose the Tories as opposed to 29 for the Lib Dems, while 45 residents are still undecided.
The picture is more clear cut in Fareham, where the Conservatives currently have 23 seats to the Liberal Democrats’ six and Independents’ two.
That status quo looks unlikely to change according to our poll, in which 67 of the 200 people questioned said they would vote Tory, more than 40 votes ahead of the Lib Dems in second.
Dr Mark Farwell, a senior lecturer in political sociology at Southampton Solent University, said: “There is a precedent of people in Britain voting on a split ticket, one party for European elections and another for local elections.
“UKIP is strong in Europe but doesn’t have a track record in local government, but I’m not surprised they polled well on local elections as their platformissue, immigration, is highly emotive.
“And especially in the south-east, in places like Southampton, when people are dealing with austerity and immigration links in to issues such as the strain on local services, you can see their appeal starts to snowball.”
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