THE battle for control of Redditch Borough Council has officially kicked off.

After the deadline recently closed the list of nominations has now been released ahead of next month's crunch contest.

Of the 29 borough council seats Labour hold 15, with 13 controlled by the Conservatives and one UKIP.

On Thursday, May 5 a third of the seats are up for grabs, with nine wards electing one councillor each.

All of the main parties say they will be working away furiously over the next few weeks for votes.

Bill Hartnett said: "Your Labour Council has consistently delivered on our promises: over 71,000 free swims for under 16s and over 60s, over 335,520 free pre 9.30 bus pass uses, abolished all car parking charges on council run car parks, invested millions of pounds in housing, funded new business start-ups and promoted and employed apprentices.

"That means you can trust us to keep on fighting for our communities with fresh pledges on the NHS, more investment in new houses and protecting people from losing their homes and more for the re-development of our local centres, creating jobs in the process."

He also pledged to protect the Alex Hospital, and campaign to get the maternity unit restored.

The opposition conservative party said it will stand on creating a "safer, cleaner and greener" Redditch, improving job and apprenticeship opportunities and boosting community transport.

Councillor Juliet Brunner, leader of Redditch Conservative Group, said: “Labour have failed to deliver for Redditch only bumping up council tax with residents getting poorer services in return.

“Redditch needs both a Conservative council and a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner.

“The Conservatives will improve our borough by cracking down on dirt and litter, attracting more high quality jobs and ensuring better transport around Redditch.”

UKIP have put forward a number of pledges to the people of Redditch including getting a full range of acute health services at the Alex Hospital, improving bus services within the borough, and revamping the new town district centres in Matchborough, Winyates and Woodrow.

They also said the party would improve housing and leisure and ensure the council is managed effectively delivering real value for money.

Paul Swansborough said: "As UKIP councillors we will always put the views of residents first and do our utmost to work positively with fellow members to get the best outcome for every citizen.

Our vision for Redditch is to build a town that offers a high quality of life and provide excellent education, health and economic opportunities for all."

Green Party campaigner Alistair Waugh said: “Everybody voting in the local elections on May 5 has the chance to vote for the Green Party. And to burst a big myth, we’re not just about the environment, we're a vote for the common good.

"We want to see a town that measures success not only economically, or environmentally, but by taking account of social equity; the health and happiness of residents.

“We’re convinced there are achievable local solutions to the wider issues in society, like the lack of government spending, economic downturn or climate change. We want to see a green economy for Redditch, one that’s based on creating jobs, keeping money local and ensuring every child has the best possible chance in life.

“Getting Green Party councillors into Redditch Town Hall would be a fantastic step in creating a more resilient town.”

A Lib Dems spokesman said: "We aim to build a community in which we can all take pride. A town where everyone has opportunities. We want to provide a high standard of public services for the people of Redditch and make the community safer, more caring and more cohesive.

"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."

The nine wards being contested are Batchley & Brockhill, Central, Church Hill, Greenlands, Headless Cross & Oakenshaw, Lodge Park, Matchborough, West, and Winyates.

But it's not only the council which is up for grabs - next month will also see voters elect a new £75,000-a-year Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Bill Longmore, the current PCC has now stepped down and six candidates have been confirmed to potentially replace him.

It includes Conservative John Campion, Labour's Daniel Walton, Liberal Democrat Margaret Rowley, Green Party hopeful John Raine, UKIP's Peter Jewell and independent Barrie Sheldon.

When people take part in the council vote on May 5 they will also be able to select their preferred PCC candidate.

The borough council election results will be announced at the town hall in the early hours of Friday, May 6.

A new PCC for the whole West Mercia region will be announced in Shrewsbury later that day, at around lunchtime.

* This newspaper will be featuring in-depth ward-by-ward election coverage in the run-up to the count, featuring everything you need to know about the elections.