Eastleigh’s ruling Lib Dem leader Keith House faces an unusual challenger in next month’s local elections – the Ukip candidate shares the same surname and is alphabetically listed above the Lib Dem by one letter.
John House comes from Chandler’s Ford, some way away from Hedge End’s Wildern ward, which raises the possibility that this is a tactical move by Ukip.
Keith House told Eastleigh News:
“It just shows the level at which they treat the electorate. I am sure Wildern voters will see through this pretty quickly!”
One Ukip source said to Eastleigh News:
“If there is room for 10,000 houses in Eastleigh, there is room for one more House in Hedge End.”
There are a total of 44 seats on the borough council, which is currently held by 39 Liberal Democrats, 4 opposition conservatives and 1 independent.
Fifteen seats on the borough council will be decided on polling day May 22 – almost a third of the seats in the chamber.
Eleven of the seats are currently being defended by sitting Lib Dems while the Conservatives stand to win or lose two of their four seats.
May 22 also coincides with voting in the European elections.
National polls put Labour in the lead for Euros with Ukip a strong second.
Labour is not expected to do as well in the borough elections but Ukip is confident that the momentum they experienced in last year’s County council elections – when they won three of Eastleigh’s seven seats – will carry through to win them seats in Eastleigh.
Ukip county councilor Andy Moore and Ukip Eastleigh Chair Glynn Davies-Dear will be going up against former ELAC colleagues to try and win back seats they formerly held as Lib Dems in Eastleigh Central and Eastleigh North.
The four major parties are standing in all the wards except the Conservatives who do not have a candidate standing in Eastleigh North or in Hedge End Grange Park where the incumbent is Lib Dem cabinet member Louise Bloom – partner to cabinet leader Keith House.
There are three TUSAC (Trade Union and Socialists Against Cuts) candidates in the three ELAC wards as part of their drive to contest all 625 local council seats nationally.
TUSAC, who say they are a ‘no cuts’ party see the most deprived area in the borough as a natural constituency as does Labour whose best chance is probably with Pete Luffman in Eastleigh South.
Luffman, who is also defending his seat on Chandler’s Ford Parish Council, is trying to win back a seat he has formerly held and which he narrowly missed out on in 2012 when he lost by just 13 votes following a recount.
The presence of a competing socialist party in Eastleigh will not be good news for Labour who have already been canvassing hard in the town for some weeks.
There is also an independent candidate standing in Eastleigh North.
Three wards that will definitely be seeing a change in councilor are Hiltingbury East where veteran Conservative and former Mayor John Caldwell is retiring, Hedge End St Johns which former Lib Dem recently turned Independent Councilor Peter Hughes will not be re-contesting for private reasons and Botley where long-serving Lib-Dem Cathie Fraser has retired as already covered here.
Voters in Bishopstoke Central and Hedge End Grange Park East will have an additional ballot paper, as there are by-elections for Bishopstoke Parish Council and Hedge End Town Council.
The HTEC vacancy has also been caused by the resignation of Cllr Caitlin Bloom.
There are only two candidates contesting the seat – a complex situation discussed by Ray Turner here.
Voters in Allbrook and North Boyatt will also be voting for their parish council and will have a choice of Independent, Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates to pick from plus a candidate described as representing ‘Allbrook Action Group’.
Voters in Chandler’s Ford will be also voting for their parish councilors from Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour candidates.
A full list of candidates can be downloaded from here