The elections in Swindon on May 2 are, of course, local elections. Candidates will say that voters should make their choice on local issues, the record of the borough council and choose between local candidates.

But the choice put to electors in Penhill and Upper Stratton throws some of the issues affecting national parties, in this case the labour party, into sharp relief.

The demographic make-up of the ward should mean it’s a Labour stronghold. It’s a heavily populated ward on the very edge of Swindon proper with a lot of council housing.

Since the current ward was created in 2012, every seat has been won by a Labour group candidate.

Except the sitting councillor defending her seat this year, Coun Teresa Page will do so as an independent.

After winning in 2015 with 39.5 per cent of the vote over a strong challenge by the Conservative candidate, Coun Page resigned from the party in May last year.

She said at the time she could not remain in the party in protest at the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, which she said was “extreme and unpatriotic”.

If the Labour group wants to win control overall in the chamber this is one seat it will be targetting to take again.

The party’s candidate is Kate Linnegar, who is also ready to stand in a Parliamentary election for the North Swindon constituency. It’s probably fair to say she’s more comfortable with Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the party than is Coun Page.

Ms Linnegar will want to convince voters that the typical concerns about housing availability and quality, opportunities, educational standards and crime and anti-social behaviour will be best addressed by electing her and helping the group to take control at Euclid Street.

She may be encouraged by recent results.

2015 represented a relative low-water mark for Labour in Penhill & Upper Stratton.

While its candidates haven’t been elected with landslides, they recent vote shares have been higher. In 2016 Mark Dempsey was elected with 45.9 per cent of the vote,, 13 percentage points ahead of the Conservative candidate.

Last year first time candidate Claire Crilly did even better - here 1396 votes were e 48.7 per cent vote share and she had a 300 vote majority over Conservative David Ibitoye.

Mr Ibitoye did well enough in second to encourage him to stand again.

He might be hoping that the recognition factor of Coun Page, who has been a councillor for 15 years across two stints, might split the normally solid enough Labour vote.

Also making a swift return to campaigning is Michelle Horrobin for the Liberal Democrats.

She will be hoping to improve on her showing last year when she took just 4.5 per cent of the vote.

The Green Party are also standing, with Katharine Henery, who will be hoping to pick up voters unhappy with the main parties.

The party has stood a candidate in the ward in three of the previous four elections, coming last every time.

The Candidates

Katharine Henery (Green)

“I am standing for election to enable all voters in Penhill and Upper Stratton to place a vote with the Green Party. If elected, I will listen to residents’ views on matters that are important to them and address those issues as effectively as possible.

“I originally came from Manchester and have lived in Swindon since 1991. I am a founder member of the Hreod Burna Urban Forest in Swindon, where I’ve been the treasurer since its inception. My three children have all grown up in Swindon and have all attended local schools.

“I’ve run workshops concerning composting, recycling and reducing household waste and have been running my own garden maintenance business for over ten years.”

Michelle Horrobin (Liberal Democrats)

“I moved here 28 years ago when my father retired from the British Army and we relocated to Swindon. I left to go to university and again after I married my husband – also in the British Army. We travelled a fair bit but settled back into the Penhill and Stratton area of Swindon six years ago. I have two children at school in Swindon and work as a head of IT, compliance and change for a fleet management company.

“I have a strong interest in local schooling, road/transport as well bringing communities together. The area I live in has become quite close knit – neighbours helping neighbours to make our little community better. Penhill and Stratton has many such communities.”

David Ibitoye (Conservatives)

“I have lived in Upper Stratton and Penhill for 19 years with my wife and our three children who attend St Catherine’s Primary School.

“I work locally at Honda and am also a parish councillor. I am very active in our local community – taking part in regular local litter picks,and volunteering for a number of local charities and community projects. I am also a Penhill street warden.

“I have a positive relationship with the local police and will continue to work to report issues including litter, graffiti, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

“I believe Upper Stratton and Penhill deserves better. I am a hardworking and local community campaigner who is determined to represent my fellow local residents.”

Kate Linnegar (Labour)

“In 2013, reading about the bedroom tax, I was horrified to discover that many of the people affected were disabled. Since then I have campaigned for a fair benefit system, adequate funding for schools and the NHS, affordable homes and an end to zero hours contracts.

“Recently I have been campaigning with the patients at five surgeries in Swindon struggling to get a decent service.

“As a local candidate, I believe it’s vital to be immersed in local concerns.

“I have lived in Swindon since I was five, bringing up my children here. I would be honoured to serve Penhill and Upper Stratton residents as one of their councillors.”

Teresa Page (Independent)

“For many years I have represented Upper Stratton and latterly Penhill ward as a Labour councillor.

“For some time I had been concerned at the party’s sharp lurch to the extreme left following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader. In May 2018, I resigned from the Labour Party as it no longer represented the patriotic centre-left party I joined many years ago.

“I now ask for your vote as an independent councillor who still believes in the values of the traditional moderate and patriotic Labour Party.

“If elected I will fight tirelessly for you.

“Your wishes will be what drives me.”