THOUSANDS of voters are set to go to the polls next week for the Worcester City Council elections.
A third of the seats, a total of 12, are up for grabs with the Conservatives seeking to regain a majority at the Guildhall in elections delayed 12 months because of the pandemic.
Councillors elected on May 6 will serve a three-year term of office having seen their four-year spells extended by a year because of Coronavirus. Currently there are 16 Conservatives, 15 Labour, three Green Party councillors and a Liberal Democrat.
Elections will be held in 12 of the 15 wards across the city: Arboretum, Battenhall, Bedwardine, Cathedral, Claines, Gorse Hill, Nunnery, Rainbow Hill, St Clement, St John, St Stephen and Warndon.
The election for the West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner was also postponed from last year and will be held on the same day.
Worcester’s Green Party will be tested with both Coun Louis Stephen and Coun Neil Laurenson bidding for re-election.
Group leader Coun Louis Stephen will face a challenge in Battenhall from Ken Carpenter of the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s Paul Mountain and Peter Rodford of the Conservative Party.
In St Stephen, Coun Laurenson will face Simon Cottingham of the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s Christopher Giles and Sam Ness of the Conservative Party.
In the keenly-contested Cathedral seat, Labour’s Coun Lynn Denham will be bidding to secure another term against Julie Bower of Reform UK, Hannah Cooper of the Green Party, Shafaz Ditta of the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrat Mark Fenton and Archie Harrison of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
Labour group leader Coun Adrian Gregson will bid to retain his Rainbow Hill seat against Conservative Parveen Akhtar, Stephen Brohan (Green Party), Liberal Democrat Sue Carpenter and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition’s Calvin Fowler.
Former MEP Jim Carver is seeking a return to politics with the Conservative Party in Nunnery as Zoe Cookson bids to retain the long-time Labour seat for the party following the retirement of Tracey Biggs.
Liberal Democrat Clive Fletcher, British Resistance Carl Mason and Barbara Mitra of the Green Party will also be on the ballot.
Labour will seek to hold on their remaining Gorse Hill seat and avoid a repeat of 2018 when Mohammed Altaf made history in taking one of the seats for the Tories.
Long-serving Coun Roger Berry will seek to continue his long association with the area on the council and faces a challenge from Susan Avery of the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats Alison Morgan and Coun James Stanley who has moved from his current Claines seat to fight Gorse Hill for the Tories.