THE candidates for the two crucial council by-elections on July 5 have been announced, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats defending slim majorities.

The contest could wrest control of the council from the Liberal Democrat Labour coalition, which has been relying on the casting vote of the mayor to beat the 30 votes of the Tories.

The Mottingham ward candidates are Labour's Elizabeth Johnstone, Derek Gambell for the Liberal Democrats, and Charles Rideout for the Conservatives. Labour's Rob Yeldham quit last month.

The Chelsfield and Goddington ward will be contested by Julian Granger for the Tories, Labour's Peter Lisle and the Liberal Democrats' Michael Oldman.

This follows the resignation of former Lib Dem councillor Graem Peters.