ST STEPHEN has undoubtedly become a stronghold for the Greens after a number of successive victories in recent years and the party will no doubt be looking to build on a very healthy majority.

The area has been the scene of impressive and famous victories for the Green Party in Worcester and has completely flipped from Conservative control in under a decade.

The party’s first city councillor Neil Laurenson is up for re-election and is looking to make it a hat trick of wins this time round.

Neil Laurenson was re-elected for the first time in St Stephen in 2016 with a 336 vote majority and Marjory Bisset was victorious two years ago - 550 votes ahead of the Conservatives - making the ward all green for the first time.

The Conservatives have lost their grip on an area they once held with ease and hoping to regain some ground in St Stephen is candidate Sam Ness.

Whilst it is likely to be a two-horse race between Green and Conservative, another two candidates will fighting for the right to represent the ward.

Despite its success in the neighbouring Arboretum, Rainbow Hill and Warndon wards in city council elections, which it has comfortably held for years, Labour has not fared as well as it would like in St Stephen elections finishing a lowly third in 2019 - with just 114 votes - and last behind UKIP in 2016.

Christopher Giles will be standing for Labour this time around.

Simon Cottingham, who is also standing in St Stephen in the county council elections for the Liberal Democrats, completes the four-way battle for a place on the city council.

It will be a busy week for the Greens with councillor Matthew Jenkins up for re-election to Worcestershire County Council this time and he will be looking to build on his 700-plus vote victory over the Conservatives four years ago to also make it three wins out of three in the area.

Simon Cottingham (Liberal Democrat)

“Simon is CEO of an advocacy charity in Warwickshire and has lived in Worcester for the past five years.

“Simon is a community and youth worker by training and has two grown up children.

“He wants to make sure we are prepared for the inevitable move to electric cars and that we have the infrastructure to support this.

“He also wants to work for a solution to the Bilford Road tip which has become a real issue for residents.

“His priorities are to ensure residents' needs are heard and communities consulted, local business and industry is supported, futureproofing infrastructure, against climate change for sustainable population growth and better public transport, reducing congestion, easing our housing crisis and improving facilities.”

Chris Giles (Labour)

“I have lived in Worcester for over twenty years and have worked in education for most of that time. I am a teacher at Worcester Sixth Form College. I have a degree in public administration and a post-graduate diploma in computing.

“When I moved back to Worcester in 2002, traffic congestion seemed a rarity, I had been living in Birmingham for years and was astonished at the difference in air quality and that was a principal reason for my decision to make Worcester my home once again. Now traffic chaos, parking and pollution are significant concerns.

“This is particularly true of Bilford Road in St Stephen and the narrow residential streets. I believe we should have better public transport and cycling infrastructure. Worcester would be a greener, cleaner and nicer place to live if the traffic problems could be resolved.

“A Labour city council is a step towards this.”

Neil Laurenson (Green)

“Being a councillor for the past nine years in St. Stephen ward has been a huge privilege.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting hundreds of residents. I am proud to have helped to introduce the Living Wage and the city council’s Sustainability Strategy.

“I persuaded the council to secure funding for the planting of thousands of trees on Perdiswell Park. I have campaigned against cuts to local services, and I have campaigned on national issues such as the NHS and freedom of speech.

“In St. Stephen ward, I have worked with officers to get street lights repaired, pavements resurfaced, and bins installed. I have also organised several litter-picks in the area.

“As well as being a councillor, I work full-time at the University of Worcester, and I enjoy running and writing. I have lived in Worcester for 14 years with my wife, Rachel, and children, Grace and Rowan."

Sam Ness (Conservative)

“I am proud to call St Stephen home, having lived on the Gregory’s Bank estate for nearly five years, and am even prouder to be the only candidate contesting to live within the ward.

“I understand our area’s issues, and I want to make a difference. From the seemingly incessant disruption caused to residents around the Bilford Road tip, to antisocial behaviour and littering along the canal, I realise these are issues which have enormous impacts on the lives of people in our area. If elected, I would work to make sure that residents’ voices are heard on the council, and that important issues like these receive the attention they deserve. As a 19-year-old, I believe that whilst it is important that the views of all people are heard, young people are particularly underrepresented. This is something I would like to change, and if elected, I would look forward to speaking for young people not only in St Stephen, but across the city.”