What to look for in the May local elections


Seat signAuthor image
Getty Images

Thursday, May 2, voters will go to the polling stations throughout England for local elections.

There are 8,425 seats up for grabs in a total of 248 councils, including metropolitan, district and unitary authorities.

What happened last time?

In many cases, these seats were contested the last time in 2015, the same day as the general election of that year, in which the conservatives gained a majority in Parliament. Much has changed since then, of course.

The conservatives are defending the largest number of seats, with 4,906 Tory councilors rising for re-election, compared with 2,133 for Labor.

The Liberal Democrats have 647 seats to defend, UKIP 176 and the Green Party 71. There are also 512 seats held by independents.

What are the tips to be observed?

Author image
Press Association

Image caption

30 unitary authorities will be challenged in their entirety – including Bedford, Brighton, Stoke, Redcar and York

There are no elections in London this year, but voters are going to probe almost everywhere.

There are 30 unitary councils, including Bedford, Stoke-on-Trent, Redcar, Cleveland and York, which will be re-elected in their entirety.

There will be a real battle in Brighton where, after a series of defections and by-elections, conservatives are now the biggest party, having passed the job.

Media playback is not supported on your device

Media CaptionCouncil elections: why do two thirds not vote?

All 54 seats are up for grabs and the Green Party – which used to run the council between 2011 and 2015 – is also trying to increase its presence.

In Cheshire West and Chester, with all the seats to be voted on, the council is on a razor's edge with both Labor and conservatives struggling to be the biggest party.

Milton Keynes, Bolton, Calderdale and Blackpool could also change hands, or the ruling party could lose its majority and give up general control.

A third of the council seats are up for grabs at Peterborough.

With a potentially parliamentary election on the horizon – a petition has been launched against Fiona Onasanya – local polls will give a good indication of the city's mood.

What impact will Brexit have?

Author image

Image caption

The conservatives did relatively well in 2015 and the pressure will be on Theresa May this time

Many voters will be motivated by purely local issues or by what political parties call "sidewalk politics", whether it be binary collections, parking lots or housing.

But Brexit is hard to ignore right now.

The polls will be a great test for Theresa May, who is under increasing pressure from her MPs and local activists irritated by the delays for the UK's departure from the EU.

Labor's performance will also be closely monitored and the extent to which it is able to appeal simultaneously to stay and leave voters in different parts of the country.

The UKIP is deploying around 1,400 candidates, while the new Brexit party is focusing its attention on the European elections.

From the other part of the Brexit argument, the new Change UK centrist party did not register in time to present the candidates to the local elections.

This means that pro-residual support, if it is a problem for voters in local elections, could make its way to the Green Party and Liberal Democrat candidates.

What about the competitions for the mayor?

There are six contests for the current mayor in Bedford, Copeland, Leicester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough and a metro mayor in North of Tyne.

Evidence of voter IDs continued

The government is continuing with its processes for identifying voters, which it claims is part of an effort to reduce electoral fraud and guarantee the security of the vote.

Some tips will require a photo ID, such as a driving license. Some will ask for a mix of photos and IDs, not photos, while some will accept polling cards.

In Broxtowe, Craven, Derby, North Kesteven and Braintree, voters will have to show either a piece of photo ID or two types of non-photographic identity documents. In Mid Sussex, Watford and North West Leicestershire, people will need to bring their election cards or their ID.

The voters of Pendle and Woking will be able to show the ID of the photo at the polling station to receive a ballot. East Staffordshire and Ribble Valley councils withdrew from the trial.

And the rest of the UK?

Voters will go to the polls in Northern Ireland to elect 462 councilors in 11 municipal areas. You can read more about the elections in this guide.

There are no local elections this year in Wales or Scotland.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.