SCHOOLS and caring for people are the focus for this year’s county council candidates for Whitchurch and the Cleres ward.

There is a four-way contest for the seat on Hampshire County Council, with three hopefuls trying to take the seat from Conservative councillor Tom Thacker, who has held it for the past eight years.

Setting out his achievements, Cllr Thacker said he had supported many local community projects, including an outside play area for Whitchurch Rising Fives, a reading area for St Thomas’s CE Infant School in Woolton Hill, outside learning at Whitchurch Primary School, notice boards for Hurstbourne Priors and Newtown and ground maintenance at the Westridge Trust, Highclere.

Labour’s John Rodway has lived in Kingsclere since 1988, and has served as a parish councillor in Kingsclere and was chair of governors at Kingsclere Primary School for two years.

He has stood as the Labour party candidate for the Kingsclere ward on three previous occasions. Mr Rodway said he is keen to focus on issues including health and social care, provision of support for young people, and free bus passes. Having worked in Reading for a global American software company, he is now a full time carer for his wife.

The Green Party’s Andrew Smith has lived in Whitchurch for 10 years, and joined the party in 2010. He would seek to improve public transport and cycling facilities in the Whitchurch area and to invest in safe, healthy, and nonmotorised routes to school.

The Liberal Democrats’ candidate is Linda Stepney. She has lived at Bere Hill Farm with her husband for 40 years.

Mrs Stepney is secretary and a volunteer driver at Whitchurch Neighbourcare. Her priorities for Hampshire are effective and compassionate care for elderly and vulnerable adults, good schools for all children in the area, traffic calming and more off-road parking.

Five candidates have come forward to represent the Candovers, Oakley and Overton area. There are four candidates trying to get the seat from incumbent Conservative Anna McNair Scott, who is seeking re-election.

The Tory has represented the division since 2001 and believes her party is the best option because the present administration has made revenue savings approaching £400 million.

Liberal Democrat Lucy Sloane Williams has over 22 years’ experience as a parish councillor in Overton.

Independent Ian Tilbury said he was standing “as I believe that only an Independent can truly represent the views and aspirations of all residents”.

UKIP’s Alan Simpson did not wish to enter an election profile, while we were still awaiting a response from Labour’s Helen Jeffrey as the Gazette went to press.

The elections will be taking place on Thursday May 4.