Cratus Brand Stamp
We're more than an agency. We're change makers.

2024 Local Elections – A Viewers Guide

03.04.24 | Written by Charlie Murphy

Local Elections in England are a big deal. In just a month, thousands of councillors will be up for election, and the balance of power in almost 100 local authorities in England is up for grabs. In 2024, 2,641 councillors, nine combined authority mayors, one single authority mayor, one Mayor of London, 25 London Assembly Members, and last but not least 37 Police (Fire) and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will see their political fortunes determined at the ballot box.

2,600 councillors is actually relatively small. Last year, over 8,000 councillors were up for election. However, these seats were last elected in 2021 when the Conservative Party was around 10% ahead in the polls. This time, councillors, Mayors, PCCs and Assembly Members are going to the ballot box with the government trailing in the polls by around 20%.

For each of the main parties, these Local Elections are an essential stepping stone in the run-up to the General Election. Their focus will be on the key seats which each party is either hoping to win or needs to shore up. This establishes historic battlegrounds such as the West Midlands as a focal point for the Conservative-Labour contest, and certain parts of the Home Counties like Winchester, Oxfordshire and Woking as places to watch for the Conservative-Liberal Democrat contest.

Pressed on Two Fronts

In much of the south, where the Conservatives are not facing Labour they are facing the Liberal Democrats. While the Liberal Democrats do not have an eye on national government, they will be looking to retake their local government base and build capacity to win seats at the General Election with a view to becoming the third party in Westminster.

Without a charted path to success nationally, the Liberal Democrats will be focused on shoring up areas where they have aspirations to gain a Member of Parliament in the next or subsequent General Election. This will however be determined at a local level, with capacities of Liberal Democrat local parties varying outside of their key target seats. Some key places to watch will be:

  • West Oxfordshire District, where the Liberal Democrat minority administration will be looking to take overall control
  • Elmbridge, where the Liberal Democrat administration will also be looking to take overall control
  • Woking, where the secure Liberal Democrat administration will look to knock the final four Conservative councillors off of the council
  • Welwyn Hatfield, where Grant Shapps’ council may be up for grabs between the Liberal Democrats and Labour
Big Ticket Targets

The election of regional mayors in parts of England offer sizeable targets for an ambitious opposition party to score headlines against an ailing government. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party will be hoping to score a knockout in either of the two Conservative-held combined authority mayoralties.

Can Personality Win the West Midlands?

Labour’s greatest ambition for the Local Elections is likely to be winning the West Midlands, defeating incumbent Conservative and former John Lewis boss Andy Street.

Street’s Mayoralty covers a swathe of seats at the Westminster level which Labour will need to win to secure a majority at the General Election this year, and Labour candidate Richard Parker’s performance at the Mayoral election will be read as a key indicator for how Keir Starmer is doing in the region.

Tides Turning in Tees Valley?

Tees Valley will be the second mayoralty on Labour’s list to secure a complete lock-up of all devolved mayoralties in England. Incumbent Conservative Ben Houchen won a formidable 72% of the vote in 2021, but recent polls suggest that Labour candidate Chris McEwen is on course to win the mayoralty.

It’s Down to Dudley

In 2023, Rishi Sunak visited Dudley to launch the Conservative Local Election campaign. The Conservatives have controlled the Metropolitan Borough since 2019, when Labour failed to secure a working majority. In 2021, the Conservatives won an outright majority.

This year Dudley saw the launch of another Local Election campaign, with Keir Starmer firmly planting his tanks on this Conservative lawn within the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Dudley will put all 72 councillors up for election, imperilling the Conservative majority of 4. Labour will be looking to regain control of the council, with 26 councillors going into the election they will need to win 11 more to secure an outright majority.

If you would like to discuss elections further, please contact us here.

2024 Local Elections – A Viewers Guide