This is an editorial opinion piece on the upcoming local elections from the Oxford Mail's politics reporter.

With the Conservative Party predicted to lose key councils across England in Thursday’s local elections, in West Oxfordshire the contest between the Conservatives and the rainbow coalition is likely to go down to the wire.

Naturally, due to the Conservative Party losing control of West Oxfordshire District Council in last year’s elections, they are hoping to bounce back with gains from the Liberal Democrats.

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In total, 17 seats are up for grabs on Thursday but the Conservatives have the most political exposure, as in nine of these seats the incumbents are Tories.

The Ducklington ward will also be contested after Conservative councillor Ben Woodruff dramatically resigned in March after serving on the council for 10 years.

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Mr Woodruff quit the council after Ainscough Strategic Land won its appeal to build 120 homes on Moors Field Meadow in Ducklington.

At the time, Mr Woodruff blamed the council’s cabinet for failing to demonstrate a five-year land supply and for focusing their efforts on “virtue signalling” and “unbelievable wokery”.

The Conservative’s main rival in the majority of the seats they are defending are the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats will be looking to capitalise on a poor national picture for the Tories, who are trailing the Labour Party by 15 per cent in the polls, and both parties’ candidates will be looking to pick up votes from those strongly opposed to the Botley West Solar Farm going ahead.

On March 22, around 100 protesters gathered outside the council’s offices in Witney and called on councillors to listen to their concerns about the project going ahead.

If the developer Photovolt Development Partners is given the green light by the government, then the panels could generate power for up to 330,000 homes and 840MW of green energy could be delivered to the National Grid.

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Andy Graham, the leader of West Oxfordshire District Council and Liberal Democrat councillor, and leader of the Conservative Group Michele Mead are high profile councillors who are contesting seats in Charlbury and Finstock and Carterton South respectively.

It is unlikely these councillors will lose their seats, and the Liberal Democrats are only defending three seats so will be hoping to spoil the Conservatives’ chances of reaching the 25 seat threshold needed for achieving a majority.

After speaking to councillors over the weekend, it seems to be the case that Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors are quietly confident the rainbow coalition will retain control of the council.

One Labour councillor, who wished to remain anonymous, said the reception they were receiving on the doorstep was very positive and they couldn’t remember a time when the national picture had been so good.

The councillor said: “I pity the Conservatives trying to knock on doors this year given their woeful record in government, with NHS, schools and the economy being run into the ground while our rivers are full of sewage.”

The Labour Party’s focus in these elections has been defending the seats they have in Witney.

One Conservative councillor, who wished to remain anonymous, said the issues which were consistently brought up on the doorstep included the new 20mph speed limits, potholes and housing.

Campaigners from the Conservative and Labour parties have said they expect the result for Witney East to be extremely tight and it will be interesting to see if householders and businesses’ concerns about 20mph limits translates into a backlash at the ballot box.

Tactical voting could lead to the Green Party picking up another seat in North Witney and numerically strengthening the coalition after Liberal Democrat Mr Graham urged the electorate to vote for Green Party candidate Sandra Simpson.

It is without a doubt that Ms Simpson’s chances of election will be extremely helped by the Liberal Democrats not putting forward a candidate.

However, the incumbent independent councillor Richard Langridge has highlighted to the Oxford Mail that the big issue in the ward is the potential 1400 home development above Eastfield Road.

Whether the seat swings to the Green Party could therefore be decided by the willingness of previous Liberal Democrat voters to lend their votes to Ms Simpson.

It is difficult to know if the requirement to bring Voter ID will have a significant impact on the voter turnout and councils in Oxfordshire have made extensive efforts to advertise the new law on social media.

West Oxfordshire District Council is not new to the spotlight after Jeremy Clarkson’s planning appeals meetings brought national papers and Amazon Prime to Witney.

Having spoken to councillors across the political spectrum, it seems likely the Conservatives will just fall short of a majority and the rainbow coalition will keep control of the council.

When the results trickle in this Friday, it is likely to be tight in many wards and I’m sure councillors from all parties will be waiting with bated breath to see if the national political picture has any bearing on the political outcome in West Oxfordshire.