THE race for votes in this year's local elections on May 3 has begun.

The official lists of candidates standing for seats on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hart District Council were announced on Tuesday and can be foundon this website here.

Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and two Independent candidates will be battling for 20 seats in Basingstoke and Deane - a third of the seats on the borough council.

One of the toughest fights is expected to be for the Buckskin seat, in Basingstoke, which Labour want to win back after losing one of the ward's two seats to the Conservatives in a by-election in December.

The victory gave the Tories an overall majority on the borough council for the first time in more than 11 years.

The party then cemented its position after winning a by-election in the Rooksdown ward just two weeks ago.

The Conservatives now hold 31 of the council's 60 seats.

The Liberal Democrats hold 15, Labour have 11 and Independents occupy three seats.

The elections will also mark the departure of two Liberal Democrat and three Conservative councillors, who will not contest their seats on May 3.

These councillors are Alex Green, who represents Grove, Paul Findlow, who represents Oakley and North Waltham, Terence Faulkner, who represents Tadley South, John Wall, who represents Whitchurch, and Jonathan Curry, who represents Winklebury.

However, Conservative group leader Mark Ruffell can rest more easily than his fellow candidates as he is standing unopposed in the Upton Grey and the Candovers ward.

Voters will also be heading to the polls in Hart, including three wards in The Gazette's area, on May 3.

Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and one British National Party candidate will be fighting for seats in the Hartley Wintney, Hook and Odiham wards.