Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher explain why the following 10 councils are the ones to watch in this year’s local elections.
Barnet LBC (Con): Labour are looking to take control here for the first time since the borough’s creation in 1964. They fell just two seats short of the Conservatives in 2014, but a swing of little more than 1% in Brunswick Park, Child Hill, and Hale wards will deliver the prize.
Kensington & Chelsea RBC (Con): Although the Conservatives polled over 50% of the vote in 2014 – more than in any other borough – the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy may yet have an unpredictable impact on this year’s contests.
Richmond Upon Thames LBC (Con): The Conservatives took a commanding lead last time, and it will be hard for the Lib Dems to dislodge them even in new party leader Vince Cable’s back yard. However, with no Labour councillors here, the Lib Dems will try to garner the votes of the 70% who supported remain in 2016.
Trafford MBC (Con): The Conservative overall majority has just a two seat cushion. The key this year is the two Davyhulme wards and Flixton – Conservative-held in both 2014 and 2016, but vulnerable to a swing to Labour of between 1 and 5% now.
Walsall MBC (NOC): Walsall has been Labour for only 11 of the past 45 years with the party still three short of an overall majority. Bloxwich West and Brownhills are possible gains (the latter from Ukip), but the third turnover needed is harder to pinpoint. Conversely, two gains from Labour on a swing of less than 2% could see the Conservatives as the largest party.
Plymouth City Council (Con): The Conservatives have control thanks to the defection of 3 Ukip councillors originally elected in 2014. A switch back to traditional Labour habits in those three wards – Ham, Honicknowle, and Moor View – would be enough to see Labour take back the council.
Swindon BC (Con): Conservative since 2004. A two seat loss would cost the party its majority; four gains by Labour would put it in control. A 4% swing since 2014 in wards like Haydon Wick and Shaw would do the trick, but the Conservatives retained both them and one of their other two most marginal seats two years ago.
Amber Valley BC (Con): The Conservatives have a one seat majority on the council. Labour’s best chance of a decisive gain is in the Belper East ward (Con majority 3.3% in 2014).
Basildon BC (NOC): The Conservatives lost control for the first time in a decade in 2014 thanks to the rise of Ukip. They have hopes of regaining it as that trend goes into reverse.
South Lakeland DC (LD): All-out elections on new boundaries. Comfortably Lib Dem for more than a decade, but local MP Tim Farron held on only narrowly in 2017 and is no longer national party leader, potentially affecting this year’s contest. The Conservatives may feel a whole council election gives them a rare opportunity.
Local elections 2018: 10 councils to watch