A ROW has broken out in the run-up to the council elections in Southampton as two  candidates with the same surname are standing in the same ward.

Long-standing Labour councillor Warwick Payne and new Conservative candidate Josh Payne are both standing in Woolston.

Warwick believes there is a good chance the Tories have selected the other Mr Payne with the aim of confusing voters.

As candidates are listed alphabetically Josh’s name will appear above Warwick’s on the ballot paper.

But the Tories have hit back saying there was no intention “to do this deliberately”.

Warwick Payne has been a councillor for the Woolston ward for the past 12 years.

He said of his namesake: “I have never heard of him. If he lived locally or was well known in the area I could understand why he was chosen but to use a virtual unknown  that just happens to have my surname   – that just looks suspicious.

“It is quite possible the Tories will deny they have done it on purpose, the real question is would anyone in Woolston truly believe that? I do not.”

Warwick said there may be some voters who know him but do not necessarily know which party he represents.

“If people want to vote for my Tory namesake because they know him and want to support him that is fine, ” said Warwick.

“The problem comes if people want to back me but put an X beside the first Payne they see on the list.”

Josh Payne, 25, from Bitterne Park, said he joined the Conservative Party at end of  last summer  to make a difference to the city.

He said he decided to stand in Woolston because  the Tories had not won the seat for several years so it represented the challenge he was looking for.

 “We decide who would stand where before all the candidates’ names are released. I don’t think this will cause confusion. The party will be the greatest distinction between us,” he added.

Cllr Dan Fitzhenry, leader of the Southampton Conservatives, said that  Woolston had been Josh Payne’s first choice of wards.

“Nobody thought about the conflict of names,” said Cllr Fitzhenry.

“We didn’t really worry about who was going to stand Labour-wise. There was no intention to do this on purpose. What is important is to determine who the best candidate for the ward is and who wants to do it and that is how we selected our candidates.”

Also standing in the Woolston ward are: Colin Bleach (Lib Dem), Clive Hillman (Green) and Derek Humber (UKIP).