AS WITH other local authorities housing is going to be a major factor for those going to the polls in Fareham next week.

On Thursday town residents will take to the poles to decide who they want to represent them in Fareham Borough Council.

The council currently has an overwhelming Conservative majority, with 77 per cent of the borough’s 31 seats held by the party.

The Liberal Democrats are the next biggest party, with three councillors currently sitting and one seat left vacant.

There are also two independent councillors and a single Ukip member. But in the upcoming council election, 16 seats will be contested with 11 of them currently held by Conservatives.

If the party were to loose eight seats, they would no longer have a majority on the council which they have run for the past 17 years.

One key issue on the minds of Fareham voters will be housing and development.

The controversial 6,000 home Welborne development caused upset when the council moved to compulsorily purchase the land from the developers.

Planning chiefs accused the developers of missing their application deadline while the developers said they were left “gobsmacked” by this and had been planning to submit a planning application soon.

The division between the council and developers raised concerns among residents over Welborne, which had already seen fierce opposition from campaign groups.

Daily Echo:

PICTURED: Welborne protester Shaun Cunningham

Leader of the council, Seán Woodward, said: “What we are finding is people are very pleased that we actually keep in touch with them throughout the year and not just at election time.

“Housing, particularly with families, is a key issue so their children can grow up and stay in the area.

“We are all about good financial management and keeping council tax down. And people are pleased we have taken a strong, almost aggressive stance on littering and dog fouling and have passed a number of by-laws to prosecute and give on the spot fines to people littering or dog fouling.”

Other issues include concerns about the Liberal Democrats, the largest opposition party after the resignation of Paul Whittle.

As previously reported in the Daily Echo, the former Fareham East ward councillor and group leader of the party resigned from his post 17 months after taking a job in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Whittle came under heavy fire for taking the £180,000-a-year job which is 4,000 miles away from his ward.

His resignation left an empty seat for the Liberal Democrats, which they will contest in the upcoming election.

Shaun Cunningham, chairman of Fareham Liberal Democrats, said: “The Liberal Democrats want to see a much more open council in consultation and to listen to the people of Fareham on a range of issues.

"Welborne is a 6,000 house development and the council wants another 2,000 home development, which the public were not asked about or consulted on.

“We are not against development, but we need to think outside the box with housing.”

When asked if he felt Paul Whittle’s job in Saudi Arabia and subsequent resignation would affect the Liberal Democrats he said: “Paul Whittle was dealt with weeks ago and we have an excellent candidate, Maryam Brady, who is contesting the seat.”

Fareham Borough Council elections take place on Thursday, May 5 alongside those for the Police and Crime Commissioner and Hampshire County Council.