By Osman Dervish
This West London borough has a political north/south divide between Conservative and Labour. This is most aptly illustrated by the stark contrast between two of the MPs in the borough with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP in Uxbridge & South Ruislip and former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell MP representing Hayes & Harlington.
The Conservatives enjoy a 23-seat majority and have had a majority since 2006 with the borough being in No Overall Control for the two terms prior to that.
Last year saw the retirement of Cllr Sir Ray Puddifoot as Leader of the Council after over 20 years in the role and election of Cllr Ian Edwards as Leader in January 2021.
His first electoral challenge came in the form of a by-election in Charville ward in May 2021. This ward is a perennial marginal which had only fully turned Conservative at the 2018 election having previously been a split ward between 2 Labour and 1 Conservative. As a ward in the middle of the borough, Charville was a key swing seat and the Conservative victory in May 2021 was an important one to solidify Cllr Edwards position moving into the election year this year.
The Conservative administration’s approach to development has been to focus large scale new housing around Hayes town leading to an increased population in the more traditionally Labour parts of the borough.
In the local elections this May, we will see new boundaries in the borough and a significant reduction in the number of councillors from 65 to 53. We will also see a number of prominent figures standing down including Sir Ray Puddifoot, former Deputy Leader David Simmonds (who was elected as an MP for Ruislip Northwood & Pinner in 2019) and Labour Planning Lead Janet Duncan.
The population increase in the south of the borough, traditionally Labour, and the reduction in councillors through the boundary changes generally will see the Conservatives most significantly impacted.
However, based on the 2018 results the new boundaries would have seen a Conservative majority of 15 seats so the Party is expected to continue to control the Council with relative ease. The key battleground wards will be Yiewsley, Charville and West Drayton where the Conservatives hope to unseat existing Labour members.
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