EIGHT candidates will fight it out for a council seat left vacant by a stalwart city councillor.

The Coxford ward has been without a third member since the turn of the year when Keith Morrell vacated the authority.

No reason was given for Mr Morrell’s departure.

Now members from several different groups will be hoping locals vote them into the seat.

Sue Atkins from the Socialist Alternative – Putting People First group will battle the Liberal Democrat’s Sam Chapman, Integrity Southampton’s David Fletcher, and the Conservative’s Diana Galton – mother of city council opposition frontbencher Steve Galton.

Derek Humber of UKIP, independent Ricky Lambert, Labour’s Matthew Renyard, and the Green’s Cara Sandys will also stand.

Following the election, the winner will serve the remaining term of the seat, which ends in 2021.

The vote has been pencilled in for March 14.

As reported, former-councillor Morrell made the decision to quit at the start of January, just eight months into his new term.

The shock move also came just seven months after he made the decision to – along with his group’s other two members Don Thomas and Tammy Thomas, to disband Putting People First so the trio could “pursue their own political directions”.

Mr Morrell also claimed that it was “business as usual” despite the split, with the members adding they would still fight “tooth and nail” for their constituents.

But, the former group chief has not revealed why he has taken the shock decision to stand down, which now leaves the ward with just two of its three Southampton City Council seats filled – held by the Thomas’s.

Just a day later, Councillor Don Thomas also announced he would be leaving the role by not standing for the seat in the upcoming May elections.

In a moving letter to constituents, Coxford councillor Don Thomas thanked those who have voted for him since he took office in 2007, adding “I have made so many friends; too much to name on this one piece of paper”.