Election coverage: analysis of the state of play at Worcester City Council

Worcester News: The Guildhall, in Worcester The Guildhall, in Worcester

TOMORROW voters go to the polls to deliver their verdict on Worcester City Council and elect seven MEPs to the European parliament. Here, our coverage continues with a look at exactly what's at stake in the city. 

D-Day is drawing closer - with thousands of voters across the city getting ready to cast their votes in the 2014 elections tomorrow.

After weeks of canvassing, all the parties in Worcester are today making one final push to sway people, with the feeling that all is still up for grabs.

At the city council, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are attempting to stay in control one year after they teamed up to form a shock coup from the Conservatives.

Leader Councillor Adrian Gregson insists he has "a strong track record" and wants to build on his base of 16 councillors.

"We've delivered on a number of things that we said we would - we've got a balanced budget and have created a plan for the next four years that addresses the 'black hole' the Tories left behind," he said.

"We've got a plan to work with all our partners to help boost the local economy, bring jobs and improve investment opportunities."

The Conservatives have hit back by saying they will "fight for every vote" and want to regain power.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, Tory group leader, said: "We are the only alternative to the Labour-run council - a vote for the fringe parties will simply let Labour win.

"Our message is clear, we are focusing on some key pledges and that includes freezing council tax, reversing the damaging car parking rises as soon as possible and stopping some of the damaging cuts to other areas like dog bins and street cleansing."

The Green Party says it is aiming to build on its current tally of one city councillor, Neil Laurenson, with its highest hopes in Battenhall.

UKIP are looking to make an historic breakthrough and is standing in 11 of the 12 wards, while Lib Dems are fighting three seats and BNP eight, a record for the far-right group.

Green Councillor Neil Laurenson said: "If we win Battenhall that will be more impressive than my (2012) win in St Stephen.

"It's a sea of green out there at the moment, we are pulling out all the stops."

Steve Davis, chairman of Worcester's UKIP branch, said: "We are quietly, cautiously optimistic.

"We haven't made a breakthrough here yet and know we've got a big hurdle to cross, but it wouldn't surprise us if we did something - feedback on the doorstep has been good."

THE WARDS BEING CONTESTED

Battenhall - one seat

Bedwardine - one seat

Cathedral - one seat

Claines - one seat Gorse Hill - one seat

Nunnery - one seat

Rainbow Hill - one seat

St John's - one seat

St Peter's Parish - one seat

Warndon - one seat

Warndon Parish North - one seat

Warndon Parish South - one seat 

CURRENT COUNCILLORS' STATE OF PLAY

Labour - 16

Conservatives - 16

Lib Dem - 2

Greens - 1

* 35 seats in total, 12 are up for grabs tomorrow

SOME OF THE MAIN COUNCIL POLICIES OVER THE LAST YEAR

During its time in office Labour has increased council tax nearly two per cent, and signed off a plan to spend £1.2 million on new affordable homes, the biggest investment in decades.

It track record includes the controversial raising of some city centre parking charges, and also a move to pay all staff the Living Wage of £7.65 an hour, a decision which benefited 73 workers.

It has also funded a £175,000 kitty to employ apprentices and encourage businesses to stage talks with college pupils over career advice, and has decided to put the Cornmarket car park and Trinity House, off Trinity Street, up for sale in a joint plan with the county council to regenerate the area.

The £9.9 million budget agreed for this year includes around £1 million of cuts, mainly due to reduced Government funding.

The spending constraints meant rises in garden waste collections last month, which went up £10 to £47, and adult cremations rose from £610 to £700, although the service was improved.

The Tories say the parking charges should never have happened and have pledged to reverse them if they regain control.

The party also insist some spending cuts could have been avoided by making more effort to commission out services to new providers, but Labour dispute this.

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