Countdown to May elections

THEY are putting themselves forward to shape the lives of hundreds of thousands of Hampshire residents.

Candidates were yesterday announced in the running to become councillors in local elections on May 3.

Some are veterans of the game, others newcomers to the campaign trail and in the next four weeks they will be trying to persuade voters they are worthy to hold public office.

Some 69 candidates have been nominated to contest the 17 seats open for election on Southampton City Council.

The council, which has been ruled by Lib Dems since 2003, is deadlocked with Lib Dems holding 15 seats and Conservative and Labour both having 16.

One seat in each of the city's 16 wards is vacant because of the normal rotation. There is an additional by-election, in Millbrook, after Lib Dem councillor Virginia Moore stood down.

Cabinet member for leisure and culture Steve Sollitt faces a challenge to his Portswood seat by Neil Kelly, the leader of Southampton's new Save Our Service party, among five other contenders.

The mayor, councillor John Slade, is seeking re-election to his Peartree seat and Tory group leader, councillor Alec Samuels, also faces the electorate in Bassett.

One third of the Tory-held Winchester City Council will be up for election.

Two Cabinet members, councillors Patricia Stallard and Richard Pearson, as well as the current mayor will be fighting for re-election.

The leader of the Labour group, Peter Rees, is standing down in the St Luke ward. On Lib Dem dominated Eastleigh Borough Council, 14 of the council's 44 seats will be contested. The mayor, councillor Peter Wall, and deputy mayor, councillor Roger Smith, are both seeking re-election.

All 60 seats on New Forest District Council and all 48 of the seats on Test Valley Borough Council will be contested.

They will be the first elections in four years. Both councils are Tory-run. There will also be elections to parish councils across the county. Nominations closed at noon yesterday.

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