MANY have described it as a battleground within the city – and there is no doubt it is one of the places where next week’s election could be won or lost.

Southampton Itchen has been under the spotlight over the past weeks because it is one of the most marginal seats in the country.

In 2017 Conservative Royston Smith won by only 31 votes, beating Labour candidate Simon Letts.

Now Mr Smith, who was first elected in 2015 after long-standing Labour MP John Denham stood down, is hoping to retain his seat.

He and his former opponent are ready for a re-match as Mr Letts is standing again for the Labour Party.

Also standing are Liberal Democrat Liz Jarvis, Green Party candidate Osman Sen-Chadun and UKIP candidate Kim Rose.

They have all been canvassing for weeks now, handing hundreds of leaflets out and listening to what residents would like to see in the city.

The battle lines are now drawn and it is only a matter of time before candidates will find out who will be representing this constituency in Westminster.

Southampton Itchen is home to the busiest cruise port in northern Europe and it has one of the most complete medieval walls in the UK still standing.

It also hosts Solent University, one of the two universities in the city, as well as a brand new cultural quarter and art gallery, the Mayflower Theatre, Ocean Village Marina and WestQuay shopping centre. Many have described next Thursday’s election as the Brexit election but there are many other issues that Southampton Itchen residents also care about with housing and homelessness topping the list. Hundreds of flats are expected to be built across the constituency while many residents are said to be concerned about the number of people sleeping rough in the city centre.

Pollution, education and economic growth are also important issues in the area with a number of sites in the city centre set for a complete makeover as part of moves that aim to attract new businesses and retain students.

Itchen is also a constituency that has a long association with Southampton’s maritime past, being the home of the Vosper Thornycroft ship-building yard until 2003.

And while some of the issues in the constituency are different to those in Southampton Test, residents of both constituencies often agree on the need for more police officers across the city and measures to improve traffic flow on busy roads.

Backing his party’s manifesto, Mr Smith stressed the need to “get Brexit done”.

But he also promised residents of Southampton to fight for the issues that matter the most to them.

“I want to make Southampton and its residents safer, more prosperous and to make our city one of which we can all be proud”, he added.

His position is totally different to the one held by Lib Dem Liz Jarvis who said to be “very concerned” about the impact of Brexit on the Southampton economy and jobs in the area, as well as the travel industry.

She also said she is determined to fight for better mental health provision for young people and against cuts to the NHS.

But contrastingly, UKIP candidate Kim Rose believes that the outcome of the EU referendum must be honoured.

“Only a vote for UKIP is a vote to honour the referendum result,”he added.

Meanwhile, addressing public transport and encouraging investment in sustainable energy are among Mr Sen-Chadun’s pledges.

“For a greener and more supportive future, we must ensure the running of affordable, frequent services while aiming to reduce energy usage and the impact on our environment,”he added. Improving transport is also what Mr Letts has promised. He also said housing, education, employment rights, infrastructure investment and devolution are among his priorities and promised more police presence in this part of the city.

Talking to the Daily Echo about the Itchen constituency, last month he said Labour is a strong challenge to the Conservatives.

“Every vote is going to count but we have a chance,”he added.

Over the past week Itchen has also attracted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

As previously reported, Jeremy Corbyn visited St Mary’s Stadium on November 29 and announced that Labour would create ten new national parks and plant two billion trees in the UK, should the party win the election.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson made a visit to the Associated British Ports in Southampton on Monday.

During his visit he stressed the importance of “getting Brexit done” and said Southampton will benefit from money the country would be receiving after Brexit.