Seven key battlegrounds at the 2023 local elections

The upcoming native elections on 4 Could would be the greatest take a look at of political opinion in England forward of the subsequent normal election, with greater than 8,500 council seats in 240 councils up for grabs. Additionally it is the primary large take a look at on the poll field for Rishi Sunak since he turned prime minister in October final yr.

The Conservatives know they’ve probably the most to lose on the election: 3,365 of the councillors defending their seats are Conservatives and the polls point out that the social gathering could lose a whole lot of them.

Conversely, if the social gathering efficiently fends off Labour challenges it might give a morale enhance to the federal government. Whereas Labour has probability of forming the subsequent authorities at Westminster, Sir Keir Starmer is beneath strain to indicate the fruits of his long-held polling lead. His wins may even should be large to provide his social gathering confidence that it could actually obtain the ten% swing wanted to get the keys to Downing Road in 2024. 

Sir Keir’s workforce could also be hoping for a end result that rivals Tony Blair’s 1995 native elections displaying, which noticed the social gathering garner a vote share of 47%. However even on present projections, this might be a severe achievement. 


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With the Liberal Democrats, the Inexperienced Occasion and Reform UK additionally battling to make their mark forward of 2024, beneath are a few of the key races to maintain tabs on:


Yarmouth is a key goal for Labour within the upcoming native elections, with Sir Keir and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves already having hung out within the space selling the social gathering’s pledge to supply £700m to assist small companies with power payments.

As issues stand presently, Labour holds 14 of 39 seats on Nice Yarmouth Borough Council, inserting the social gathering on the verge of a majority. 

UKIP as soon as had a powerful presence right here, however their current demise from 2018 onwards has bolstered the Conservative place on the council. The upcoming election now presents a main alternative for Labour to take management for the primary time since 2014.

The Nice Yarmouth parliamentary seat is presently held by Brandon Lewis, a former cupboard minister, with a majority of 17,663. It might subsequently be a protracted shot come a normal election, however the sort of seat Sir Keir may win on an excellent night time. Definitely, a powerful displaying within the native elections would increase the constituency up the social gathering’s listing of targets for 2024. 


Mid-Suffolk is one other East-Anglian constituency the place the Conservative social gathering is beneath menace — this time from the Greens. 

In 2019, the Greens gained 12 of the 34 seats on the council, turning into the biggest opposition social gathering. The election additionally noticed the Conservative group lose its chief and its majority, however the social gathering has held on to energy due to the assist of an impartial councillor and the casting vote of the chair.

The Greens now must win six additional seats right here on 4 Could to type their first ever majority administration. 

In what is maybe an indication of the instances, lots of the Conservative candidates within the space have labelled themselves “native Conservatives”. It has been interpreted as an try and distance themselves from the nationwide authorities’s file. The group shall be hoping to choose up two seats to reclaim a full majority on the council.

Tees Valley (varied) 

To be on monitor to type a authorities in 2024, Labour might want to regain “pink wall” areas reminiscent of these in Tees Valley.

The truth that the Tees Valley Mixed Authority elected a Conservative mayor in 2017 was an early signal of voters deserting Labour within the pink wall. It was a sample bolstered by the 2019 native elections, which noticed Middlesbrough council and Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees BCs fall from Labour to beneath no general management.

The parliamentary constituency of Hartlepool additionally fell to the Conservatives in the course of the by-election of 2021 in what was a very bitter second for Sir Keir’s Labour management. A powerful displaying within the borough council election right here could be an emblem of the social gathering’s reversal in its electoral fortunes during the last two years. 

In Middlesbrough, too, Labour will fancy its possibilities of unseating sufficient of the 2019 winners to regain its majority.

The Conservatives may even face challenges from Reform UK in these areas, with the re-styled Brexit social gathering trying to eat into their vote in locations like Hartlepool. 


Dacorum, the location of the Liberal Democrats’ native elections launch, is a key native election goal for Sir Ed Davey as he appears to be like to problem Conservative candidates within the “Blue Wall”. 

As a part of the launch, the Liberal Democrat chief — not recognized for his subtlety — ploughed by means of rural Hertfordshire on a yellow tractor, demolishing a wall of blue hay bales within the course of.

The Liberal Democrats are the principle social gathering in opposition in Dacorum, with 19 seats on the authority. The Conservatives have a powerful majority of 31/51, however Sir Ed Davey senses an underlying vulnerability.

Heartened by current by-election victories in Tiverton and Honiton and North Shropshire, each gained by the Conservatives in 2019, the social gathering’s efficiency in Dacorum shall be an necessary sign as to how Sir Ed’s political fortunes are evolving. 

The Liberal Democrat chief informed his social gathering’s launch occasion: “We’re discovering that lifelong Conservatives are saying they’ve had sufficient, that they’re by no means going to vote Conservative once more and so they’re switching to the Liberal Democrats”.

Nevertheless, the Liberal Democrats shall be a protracted shot to win Dacorum’s two parliamentary seats come 2024. The incumbent for Hemel Hempstead, Sir Mike Penning, boasts a majority of 14,563 — the Liberal Democrats got here in third in 2019 behind Labour on 6,317 votes. 

South West Hertfordshire has been represented since 2019 by the Conservatives’ Gagan Mohindra, he changed David Gauke, the previous Tory MP who stood as an anti-Brexit impartial candidate within the election. Even when Mr Gauke’s 2019 complete was added on to the Liberal Democrat candidate, the social gathering nonetheless trails by 10,000 votes. 


The final time native elections have been held in Blackpool in 2019, voters selected to maintain Labour accountable for the council. Nevertheless, the social gathering has now misplaced majority management, holding 20 of the 42 seats with the Conservatives the biggest opposition social gathering on 15 councillors.

And because the 2019 native elections, Blackpool has despatched two Conservative MPs to Westminster by means of Scott Benton and Paul Maynard. Mr Benton’s victory in Blackpool South made him the primary Conservative MP to signify the constituency since 1997.

Nevertheless, Mr Benton misplaced the Conservative whip simply weeks in the past after turning into embroiled in a lobbying scandal on account of a sting by the Instances newspaper. The MP has additionally clashed together with his native Conservative Occasion which led to the resignation of its group chief and councillor Tony Williams in February this yr. 

The confluence of native and nationwide tendencies in all probability places Labour in prime place to take management of the council as soon as extra. A powerful displaying would set the social gathering on track to reclaim its two parliamentary seats on the 2024 normal election. 


The end result of the battle for Bolton council shall be one other key signifier forward of 2024. 

Labour ran the council all through the 2010s however misplaced management in 2019, leaving the Conservatives in cost with a minority administration. The ruling social gathering then noticed off a problem from Labour within the 2022 locals — however the present “all out” election means each single seat is up for grabs this time. 

Labour topped the ballot final yr and can hope to revive their management of the council which they’d loved for greater than 30 of the previous 40-odd years previous to 2019.

Like Hartlepool, Bolton is an instance of an space Labour have to make progress in in the event that they need to even take into consideration forming a authorities in 2024. Nevertheless, gaining general management could show troublesome on this event, with one-fifth of the present council seats presently held by impartial and small native events.


Labour launched their native election marketing campaign in Swindon initially of April, instantly marking out the Wiltshire city as a key battleground. The social gathering must win six seats to wrestle again management of the world’s council. 

Sir Keir may even remember that his path to Downing Road runs straight by means of Swindon’s two parliamentary constituencies: Swindon South and Swindon North, each misplaced to the Conservatives in 2010.

Making no secret of his designs on the world, Sir Keir informed Sky Information on a walk-about initially of April: “I’m measuring this on the street to the subsequent normal election and I need to see the Labour Occasion making actual progress”.

Heidi Alexander, previously the Labour MP for Lewisham East, is the South Swindon parliamentary candidate. She shall be taking over former cupboard minister Robert Buckland in 2024. Her presence within the constituency is one other key signifier of Starmer’s intent for Swindon. 

Each Buckland and Alexander have been busily doorstepping forward of the Could native elections. Their’s shall be a conflict to look at two years from now.