VOTERS go to the polls tomorrow casting their ballots in both the Winchester City Council elections and for the European Parliament.
A poll of 1,000 voters by the Daily Echo in Winchester, Southampton, Eastleigh and Fareham last week showed the Conservatives in the lead with UKIP second and Labour slightly ahead of the Liberal Democrats. A sizeable number of people were undecided.
In Winchester 200 people were polled in the city centre last week. Of the 142 who said they would vote, 35 backed the Tories, 29 the Lib Dems, 18 UKIP, 10 Labour, three Green, one independent and one would abstain. But 45 were still undecided.
The city council votes will be counted on Friday morning at the Guildhall.
Meanwhile UKIP leader Nigel Farage visited his target town of Eastleigh yesterday in the wake of the row about his comment that he thought people would be concerned if Romanians moved in next door.
One leading Romanian businessman, based in Otterbourne, has responded by saying he could “teach Mr Farage a few things” about being a good neighbour.
Calin Huma, a Romanian businessman from Otterbourne and resident in the UK for almost 20 years, is founder of the British Romanian International Development Gateway Exchange.
Mr Huma said: “My problem is that describing an entire people by the actions that might have been done by certain Romanians is wrong.
“As a Romanian I have never had a problem here, and I feel that I am an exemplary citizen who has integrated well and who is good friends with his neighbours. I think Mr Farage would find that Romanians integrate very well in their communities in the UK. If he moved in next to me I could teach him a few things, as although we have free speech in the UK, society doesn’t regulate whether or not you are educated in the matters that you talk about.”
There was better news for the Lib Dems at a packed hustings in Winchester last Friday.
A show of hands gave their candidate Catherine Bearder MEP victory over Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP.
The candidates were asked about immigration, trade, jobs and energy.
On immigration Alan Stevens, for UKIP, said he favoured a points system which would see more skilled non-white, non-EU immigrants. He added: “The EU is a jobs killer. In Hampshire the Ford factory was shipped out to Turkey with EU money.”
John Howarth, for Labour, said he knew of a young Pole from Southampton who had won entrepreneur of the year and now employed 35 British people. “Immigration has not been bad for the British economy, but when the economy goes bad people blame the immigrants. We have learned tolerance and we need to stop hate-peddling.”
Mr Hannan took a strong Eurosceptic line. “We are currently trapped in the only trade bloc on the planet that is shrinking economically. That is no place for a country like ours.”
Ms Bearder said thousands of British jobs would be lost if the UK left the EU. Southern-based firms Siemens, GEC, GKN, Unilever, Airbus and Nissan had all called for the UK to remain a member.
Keith Taylor, Green MEP, said it was vital to put people and the environment at the centre of things and not private profit.
There was cross-panel agreement that the benefits system needs to be tightened; that was a domestic issue and nothing to do with the EU.
Around 150 people squeezed into the conference chamber in the Guildhall, a decent number although the meeting was originally booked for the much larger Bapsy Hall.
The hustings was organised by the cross-party European Movement.
The Euro votes will be counted at Southampton Guildhall on Sunday May 25.
The poll of 1,000 people: Q1 - Do you know that local elections are taking place on May 22?
Yes: 896 No: 104 Q2: Will you vote at the elections?
Yes: 691 No: 236 Undecided: 73 Q3: Which party will you vote for?
Conservative: 168 Labour: 103 Lib Dem: 100 UKIP: 126 Green: 17 Socialists: 8 Other: 8 Undecided: 161