Last time out, in 2010, the Conservatives won more votes than the Lib Dems but ended up losing the election.

While winning easily in relatively safe seats in the likes of Coombe Vale, St James and Old Malden, the party failed to make enough gains to take overall control of Guildhall for the first time since 1994.

If the party is to finally wrest control from the ruling Lib Dems, then Surbiton could prove key.

Of the nine available seats in St Mark’s, Surbiton Hill and Berrylands wards, councillor Karen George is the only Conservative – and she is stepping down this election.

The party has made no secret of its desire to take seats in St Mark’s especially – where Kingston Council leader Liz Green and long-standing councillor Yogan Yoganathan are both seeking re-election. Whether or not the Lib Dems can keep their stranglehold on the town may prove decisive.

Elsewhere, the Tories will be buoyed by last year’s by-election victory in Beverley ward, and may look to make more inroads in New Malden, where they already have a strong following.

That would mean unseating either councillor Trevor Heap or lead member for sustainability and sport Simon James – or both.

The three seats in Grove ward, in Kingston town centre, are all currently held by Lib Dems – although only incumbent councillor Chrissie Hitchcock will be contesting the ward this time.

The Tory’s pledge to put more police officers on the street to tackle anti-social behaviour and take a tougher stance on licensing laws could have been thought up with this ward in mind.

Neither party is expecting much change in the Lib Dem-dominated south of the borough and the Tory north.