POLITICAL hopefuls are ramping up efforts and hitting the campaign trail ahead of council elections in May.

The region’s Conservative and Labour parties are laying out their priorities ahead of the polls with rejuvenating Andover town centre a key battleground.

Sloganed “Ambitious for Andover”, the Conservatives list a plan for a cultural quarter at the former magistrates court site and the redevelopment of a park at the Town Mills as how it is going about boosting the heart of the town.

A redevelopment of the Chantry Centre also makes up part of this plan.

The Tory pledge reads: “We’re having detailed discussions with Aviva, the major shareholder in the Chantry Centre, about a fundamental overhaul of our town centre shopping space to make it fit for the 21st century.

“It is clear the Chantry Centre needs significant investment and we are committed to delivering that.”

Labour however sets out an alternative vision, of investing £80 million for town centre rejuvenation to create a new shopping and culture centre at Black Swan Yard/George Yard car park.

Announcing its policies, a Labour statement read: “We know Andover has been badly let down by the Tories and Lib Dems who have held power in Andover for too long.

“They have ignored the problems we have, tinkered around the edges and failed to help the most vulnerable. Our plan is a sensible, radical and deliverable plan.

“There is a choice in May 2019 – more of the same and Andover left behind, or voting for new, passionate and bold councillors to transform our town.”

Both Conservative and Labour also set out recycling as a hot topic, with the ruling party pledging maintain its “tough” approach to fly-tipping in the borough.

The Labour faction, led by Andover town councillor Andy Fitchet, highlights housing as a keynote of its transformation for Andover.

It cites eliminating homelessness in one council term, building new council housing, and holding developers and housing associations to account properly.

The party is looking to begin campaigning this week, while the Liberal Democrats say they continue to campaign ‘all-year-round’.

Andover Liberal Democrat leader Luigi Gregori said: “As Liberal Democrats, we believe in the dignity, well-being and equality of individuals and communities across Test Valley and Andover.

“As a result, we work and campaign all year round for local people who deserve value for money and high-quality services from all their local councils.

“In particular, we have provided a strong voice for our area, and have fought for local issues that matter ranging from unrepaired potholes, the environment, to unfair taxes such as the Andover Levy.”

Meanwhile on Saturday a new party vowing to put local issues above national party politics launched its manifesto.

Andover Alliance kicked off its campaign at the Queen Charlotte pub with election promises to give better support for veterans, give young people a better future and a “massive plan” to redevelop the town centre.

Founder Richard Rowles said: “For the last 20 years, the Conservatives have had a monopoly over local government in Andover and the opposition have been found wanting, the bottom line is they have all failed the people of Andover.

“We believe that Andover has been neglected because we have elected politicians who value their attachment to national party politics, more than their commitment to the people of Andover.”

The borough and parish council elections will be held on May 2, 2019.