Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Local elections 2014: Hampshire sideshows boost interest

Mike Hancock and Maria Miller Image copyright PA
Image caption MPs Mike Hancock and Maria Miller have both made headlines in recent months

This year's local elections may well end up being overshadowed nationally by the European campaign, but in Hampshire two sideshows are sure to get all the attention.

In Portsmouth a third of the seats on the council are up, including that of Mike Hancock.

The MP, and Fratton councillor, was suspended by the Liberal Democrats in January after a report into claims of sexual misconduct towards a female constituent was leaked.

Mr Hancock, who has always denied the claims, has decided to stand as an independent and still has close ties locally with his former party.

And he won't be easy to unseat having won by a comfortable margin in 2010, both in his council ward and Portsmouth South parliamentary seat.

His wife Jacqui Hancock (Lib Dem) also happens to be up for re-election in the Charles Dickens ward so it'll be a big night for Team Hancock.

If you crunch the numbers his former party could lose control of the city but that's far from likely.

Heading north to Basingstoke, a key focus will be whether the Conservative-led council feels the "ocean of anger" that swept the town during the Maria Miller expenses scandal?

The Tory MP resigned as Culture Secretary and while she may have fallen on her ministerial sword there are those who wanted her to quit politics altogether.

And at Winchester City Council a double defection from Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats earlier this year means overall control hangs in the balance.

The city's voters have a long history of swinging between the two parties so 2014 could well be the latest bout in a long-standing political wrestling match.

Seats will also be up for grabs at councils in Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, Rushmoor, Hart and Southampton.

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