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Local elections: 12 councils to watch

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Psephologists Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher on some of this year’s most interesting contests

Calderdale MBC (NOC)

Labour is looking to take overall control here for the first time in 20 years. A swing of just 2% since 2015 will do it. The Elland, Luddendenfoot and Sowerby  Bridge wards are key, having been won by the Tories four years ago but by Labour in 2018.

Carlisle City Council (NOC)

Boundary changes slash the number of councillors from 52 to 39. Labour is just short of a majority currently and may now find it easier to get over the line. Winning seven wards within the city itself would do the trick.

Cheshire West & Chester Council (Lab)

Wholesale boundary changes have reduced the council from 75 to 70 seats, but will do nothing to make the outcome less tight. Labour currently has a single seat majority and polls well in Ellesmere Port and Chester itself. Conservative wards tend to be in more rural areas.

Crawley (Lab)

Labour for all but eight of the past 45 years, but new boundaries now make the council hard to call. Labour tends to prosper in the western wards, the Conservatives in the eastern ones. The Conservatives probably need to win the new Broadfield and Northgate & West Green wards to build a majority.

Dudley MBC (NOC)

On a knife edge between the Conservatives on 35 seats and Labour on 36, with one Independent. The Conservative Belle Vue and Gornal wards are  vulnerable to a 2% swing to Labour; Labour itself defends narrow majorities in Lye & Stourbridge North and in Upper Gornal & Woodsetton.

Pendle BC (Con)

When the Conservatives won overall control here in 2018 it marked the first time in 40 years they had done so. Their success may not be short-lived though as most seats they defend this year enjoy large majorities.

Peterborough City Council (Con)

The Conservatives are way out in front of all other parties, but only have a one seat overall cushion. They are vulnerable to Labour in the East, North, and Ravensthorpe wards, but Labour itself has problems. Two of its councillors resigned and the city’s MP – though now expelled – was imprisoned. 

Thanet DC (NOC)

This council neatly sums up the recent fate of Ukip. In 2015 they won a clear majority with 33 out of 56 seats. Since then they have haemorrhaged support and cling on with just 14 members of the so-called Independent and Ukip group. A reversion to Conservative control looks likely. 

Swindon BC (Con)

Narrowly Conservative since 2004. A one seat loss would cost them their majority, but Labour faces its usual problem of deposing well entrenched Conservative councillors. Eight of the 11 seats they defend from 2015 have majorities in excess of 20%. 

Trafford MBC (NOC)

Overall control lost by the Conservatives last year after 15 years in charge. If Labour can win just three of the five wards they took in 2018 but where they  failed to do so in 2015, they will have a majority. 

Walsall MBC (NOC)

A tightly fought council which has been ‘hung’ since 2011. The Conservatives seized effective control in 2018 from a Labour/Liberal Democrat administration thanks to the mayor’s casting vote, each group having 30 seats. Labour performed less well last year than in 2015, and clear opportunities look hard to identify.

Winchester City Council (Con)

The Conservatives outscore the Liberal Democrats 23-22 on this 45-member council. The latter could now take control for the first time in a decade as the Conservatives defend four seats in wards where the Liberal Democrats topped the poll in both 2016 and 2018.

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