Hotly contested seats for the county council elections

THE battle for the Woking seats in the county council elections next week has seen new political groups throw their hats into the ring.

The tightest contest could be in Woking North, where the Conservative councillor Ben Carasco is retiring because of ill health.

County elections are taking place next week with a number of seats hotly contested

Cllr Carasco won by 247 votes from Labour in the last elections in 2017.

The replacement Conservative candidate, Riasat Khan, is being challenged by the Labour borough councillor Mohammad Ali, UKIP’s Will Roe and Gian Palermiti, from the Heritage Party.

The Heritage Party, formed late last year as a breakaway from UKIP, is fighting five of the seven Woking seats.

They include Woking South West, currently held by Woking Borough Council leader Ayesha Azad. She will be contesting it against Heritage Party local organiser Tim Read, Dale Roberts of the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s Sharaz Hussain and Ella Walding of the Green Party. In 2017, Cllr Azad won her county seat with 933 votes ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

There are six candidates, the largest number in one ward, fighting for Knaphill and Goldsworth West, held by Saj Hussain, the Deputy Mayor of Woking. In 2017, he was re-elected with 1,538 more votes than Ann-Marie Barker, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Woking Borough Council.

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Cllr Barker is contesting the county seat again in this election, as well as Gerry Mitchell, the Woking Labour Party chair, and Hassan Akberali, an Independent who came within 152 votes of winning a Knaphill borough council seat in 2019.

Dr Akberali might benefit from any split voting patterns, if Damien Heads of the Heritage Party picks up some Conservative votes, and Labour votes go to Nathan Holmes, from the Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts. The group is part of the Trade Unionists and Socialists Coalition, which is fielding 300 candidates across the country on 6 May, including five Surrey County Council wards.

One of the other contests likely to be close is in Goldsworth East and Horsell Village, where the Conservatives’ Colin Kemp won by 58 votes from the Lib Dems in 2017. Cllr Kemp, the deputy leader of Surrey County Council and an executive member of Woking Borough Council, will face Lance Spenser of the Lib Dems and Labour’s Michael Kelly.

The Byfleets was won by the Independent Amanda Boote in a by-election in 2018 after the death of the Conservative councillor Richard Wilson.

Cllr Boote won by 346 votes from the Conservatives, who have fielded Stewart Dick this year. They will be competing against Peter Graves of the Lib Dems and Jim Craig of the Green Party.

Cllr Boote is one of five “double hatters”, who also serve on Woking Borough Council.

The two who are not also borough councillors are Cllr Carasco and Elizabeth Bowes, the Conservative Woking South East councillor. Cllr Bowes won by 1,387 against the Lib Dems in 2017.

The Lib Dems have fielded Ellen Nicholson with Judith Squire standing for the Heritage Party and Christine Murphy the Green Party candidate.

* FOR a full list of all candidates, visit www.surreycc.gov.uk/council-and-democracy

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