CONTROVERSIAL councillor Tony Hooke is involved in a fiveway battle to retain his seat at the upcoming Hampshire County Council elections.

The Independent’s Andover South seat is the most heavilycontested of the three Andover wards, which are all up for grabs when voters take to the polls on May 4.

Councillor Hooke will go head-to-head with four other candidates, including Andover town councillor, Richard Rowles, who will be representing the Liberal Democrats.

Newcomer Martin Boiles will be hoping to reclaim Andover South for the Conservative party, whose previous candidate, David Drew, lost the seat to the then-Ukip man Hooke in 2013.

Councillor Hooke will also have to bat off competition from his former-Ukip colleague Daniel Emmerson.

Mr Emmerson will represent the anti-European party at next month’s election, just months after saying he had “quit politics”.

Labour will be represented by Felicity Thorpe-Tracey, while Catherine Hosen will be aiming to take the seat for the Greens.

Meanwhile, Andover West will be a four-way tie between the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Labour and Ukip.

Current Tory councillor Zilliah Brooks will be hoping to see off competition from Labour’s Andy Fitchet – a current town councillor.

Luigi Gregori, also a town councillor, will represent the Lib Dems, while Ukip will be led by Norman Woods.

Just three candidates will go head-to-head for Andover North, in what promises to be a closely-contested seat.

Current councillor Tim Rolt, of Ukip, will face stiff competition from Conservative Kirsty Locke and Andover Town Council chairman, Katherine Bird, who will represent the Lib Dems.

Other candidates of interest from across the area include HCC’s current leader Roy Perry, who will be standing again in the newly-formed Romsey Rural ward.

Another name back in the hat is former Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes, who is standing as the Conservative nominee for Romsey Town.

Mr Hayes will have to work hard for the seat, which is currently held by Mark Cooper, who is also standing.

Speaking ahead of the election, John Coughlan, county returning officer and county council chief executive, said: “County council elections enable the democratic process to take place and provide an opportunity for members of the public to have their say at the ballot box.

"Everyone who is entitled to vote, should to turn out on May 4 and choose who to represent them on the county council.”

The county-wide election occur every four years and voters in all 76 electoral divisions choose who they want to run services in their area – from education, roads and social care for vulnerable children and adults, to access to the countryside and libraries.

Two divisions elect two councillors – Leesland & Town (Gosport) and Fareham Town – due to the size of the electorate, so the council consists of 78 councillors.