ON Thursday, May 22 the voters head to the polls to deliver their verdict on Worcester City Council. Our ward-by-ward coverage continues with a look at Warndon Parish North.
WARNDON Parish North has a reputation for being fiercely contested - and it's been kind to the Conservatives.
The ward, which takes in parts of Warndon villages, has a good track record for the Tory Party and it will expect to hold onto the seat come what may.
Not only is there a genuine contest in prospect here, but traditionally the residents of Warndon Parish North have been very engaged in the political process.
Back in 2010 it achieved a superb 71 per cent turnout, which led to Conservative Councillor Stephen Hodgson winning 1,622 votes, beating Labour's 905.
And in 2011, the last year it was contested, Tory Councillor Douglas Wilkinson secured 946 votes, confining Labour to second place on 550.
The pattern is a familiar one here, with better turnouts tending to benefit the Conservatives over the years.
Cllr Hodgson is defending his seat this year and will be looking for a similar outcome to 2010 by drawing upon his experience.
Zac Pritchard, who is doing a degree at the University of Worcester, is standing for Labour and chairs the party's student branch in the city.
The omens for him are good - in recent years two of Labour's Warndon Parish North candidates have tasted defeat here but were later elected as city councillors elsewhere, Richard Boorn and Lynn Denham.
The Greens and UKIP are also fielding candidates, giving residents here a choice of four.
In recent years no more than three parties have tended to contest it, with 2014 signalling a welcome change.
In particular, eyes will be on UKIP as Nigel Farage's party has not been involved in this ward ever before, making it an unknown quantity.
The ward is leafy and home ownership is higher than elsewhere in Worcester.
It is also popular with commuters due to its close proximity to the M5.
One major issue with people in the ward has been horses left to graze for days on end along the many grassed verges.
Last September the city council sparked controversy when it started to rip up a popular playground in Howcroft Green as part of a money-saving measure.
* Your Worcester News has set up a section on its website which features all the candidates profiles.
We will also be using it to provide a LIVE results service on May 22.
WHAT THE CANDIDATES SAY
LAWSON CARTWRIGHT (UKIP)
I joined UKIP because it listens to the common man.
Only those at the top have done well out of the EU while working families have suffered.
I understand business concerns, but I can see that working class voters have been betrayed.
Wages have been depressed, our NHS is heading for privatisation and our social services can’t cope.
Take Mrs Jones, she works four hours a week as a cleaner, she wants more hours to feed her family but the market is saturated with cheap Eastern European labour. Mr Jones can’t find work, he’s unskilled but hardworking. He has tried to get a job but employers only recruit through agencies. Agencies prefer Eastern European labour.
Simon their son wants to escape the council estate and go to college, but he can’t find a part time job.
People say Simon’s dad is a scrounger but he’s not. Give Simon a chance, stop mass migration of unskilled labour.
STEPHEN HODGSON (CON)
Stephen has lived in Worcester for the past 25 years, and bought his first home in the villages.
Married to fellow councillor and past mayor Lucy, he has represented Warndon Parish North for the past 10 years.
During this period he has helped numerous local residents and championed local causes including play areas and fly grazing.
In council he served as chairman of the Performance Management and Budget Scrutiny Committee, contributing towards the improvements that were seen in council services and finances when the authority was Conservative run.
Outside politics Stephen is a regular at Sixways supporting the Warriors, and a member of Rotary where he has organised the successful Christmas parcels project for the past 3 years, helping Worcester residents in need.
He works for a transport company just to the north of the county.
ZAC PRITCHARD (LAB)
I grew up in Worcester, and live in Warndon Parish North.
I am currently a student at the University of Worcester, where I have been student Diversity and Equalities Officer for the past year.
These are hard times for anyone with a disability. Disabled people have been badly affected by cuts to disability benefits and social care services.
Many still have to cope with employers and others thinking that being disabled means being unable to work or being a ‘burden’. I want to change that.
I am glad to have had the opportunity to study at a good university in my home town and I very much want to work in Worcester after graduating.
I am pleased that the Labour city council invests in attracting graduate-level jobs to the city and supporting young people to gain the skills and qualifications needed to get a decent job.
PAUL SNOOKES (GREEN)
I am a resident of Warndon Villages and since retiring from the university of Worcester in 2013, I have been actively involved, as a volunteer, in many exciting environmental and community projects in this area.
If elected, I will do my utmost to work together with the community to make Warndon Villages an even better place to live and work in.
There is overwhelming evidence that we all benefit enormously, both mentally and physically, by being out in nature with family, friends and neighbours.
We therefore need to protect and improve the beautiful green spaces we are lucky to have all around us. For example would you like to see less litter, better parks for our children, more verges and open spaces with more fruit trees and carpets of beautiful wild flowers, and more wildlife in Warndon Local Nature Reserve?
I'll campaign for more allotments for us to grow more of our own food.