As clocks and bells across the country strike 10pm on 05 May 2022, and weary activists huddle to discuss election day with stories of rosettes, telling, and knocking-up, all are likely to agree that these are going to be local elections to watch closely.
Over the coming hours Councillors will lose their seats, new Councillors will be elected, control of councils will move from one party to another, other councils will find no party in overall control, and some Leaders, cabinet members, and committee chairs will find their peers keen for change. This happens at every election, but everything seems to point to this being one of renewal and change.
Throughout the election Cratus has been busy watching the elections, talking to candidates about their campaigns, and discussing with our clients the expected results and what that might mean for them. Our London team have looked in detail at the key battlegrounds across the city, Southern Home Counties have explored how we expect Elmbridge to fare, and our Managing Director, Planning Communications set out what the local elections might mean for planning at a local level.
So for those who enjoy staying up to watch the results come in, let’s take a look at when we can expect surprises, and for those who got an earlier night and are reading this later, a look over the key battlegrounds that will define these elections.
The first results are expected as early as midnight from councils who count somewhere they can get all of the ballot boxes back quickly to, and a team determined to provide the first news story. General Election fans will recognise many of the names as providing the first interruption of studio chatter for the rolling news channels.
Of course early results rely on a clear result. So the closer a vote is, the more likely a recount or two, and the later we will know. But in the meantime, with a fair wind, midnight is likely to see results from:
Newcastle-upon-Tyne – strongly Labour-held so any change will come as first warning that all is in play tonight. Similarly Labour will be hoping for few surprises in South Tyneside and Wigan.
Basildon – a traditional bellwether in the General Election, there is opportunity for the Conservatives to make gains here. Equally Labour are hoping to make gains in Bolton, where the Conservatives have been in minority control since 2019.
By 2am on Friday we could see some very close contests with the Conservatives and/or LibDems hoping to take more than six seats from Labour and leave Sunderland in no overall control. After the Conservatives won a recent by-election in Hartlepool they have gone head to head with Labour to see who will take control of the council. However with a strong showing of independent candidates the answer could elude everyone.
Westminster could be the next big battleground to declare. This election sees a reduced number of councillors, so with Labour gains in recent years it is likely to be closer than we’ve ever seen. Any change in control would be a huge shock to both the Conservatives and Labour. Hull City Council is a pretty even split of councillors for Labour and the LibDems, with Labour currently holding control by a thread. This one could go either way, or indeed no overall control, as it was towards the beginning of the century.
For the early risers we might get results from Southampton and Wandsworth but they are likely to be closely fought and may well take a while to give us a result. Whether Labour take control of either from the Conservatives is likely to be the subject of celebration from the victor’s party on the early news.
By breakfast time we may have a result from Barnet. Labour have been clear that this is the top London target for this election, and while they didn’t fare well in the last two elections, they only need nine seats to form a majority and put a serious scalp on the breakfast table.
Those councils not counting overnight will begin the job at 9am, and this includes all of the Scottish and Welsh councils. Within a few hours we should have results from Mayoral elections in Lewisham, Watford, Newham, and Hackney albeit with few surprises.
Mid-afternoon on Friday should see a result from Worthing. Currently equal numbers of Labour and Conservative councillors plus two LibDems and an independent, this remains a key Labour target. Similarly both Labour and the Conservatives hope to take Crawley from no overall control to their own. The last close contest around this time should be Somerset where the LibDems and Conservatives have a decent chance of taking this new unitary authority.
Tower Hamlets will round-off most of the big battles by dinnertime on Friday with the declaration of its Mayoral result. John Biggs, for the Labour Coop Party currently holds the role but Lutfar Rahman is standing again, this time as an independent and will have to provide whether he has a personal vote to take the election. It’ll be Saturday afternoon though before we get the council results for the borough, but few surprises are expected.
Also on Friday evening we will find out if Bury will see Labour hold or improve their modest majority, or if the Conservative campaign has cut through. Both party leaders made visits during the election, and every seat is up for reelection, so it could be the last surprise of the day.
Cratus clients will be receiving updates and briefings about the councils that matter to them. If you would like to discuss how we can help you develop and manage your relationship with local government please get in touch.