There are just two days left for council candidates to win Greater Manchester residents over for their votes in this year’s local elections. More than 250 council seats are up for grabs across the region – with key battles shaping up in some boroughs.
Labor runs nine of Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities, with Bolton currently the region’s only council with Conservative leadership. Nationally, the Labor party is predicted to have a good night amid the cost of living crisis and after six months of scandal hitting the Tories – from the Owen Paterson affair to Neil Parish watching porn in the Commons, all while revelations and fines have emerged from ‘partygate’.
But it might not all be smooth sailing for Labor locally. The arrival of Clean Air Zone signs on Greater Manchester’s roads at the start of 2022 sparked a huge backlash to the original scheme, with protests against the plans and a political war of words which led to Mayor Andy Burnham urging a rethink while facing a deluge of criticism.
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The Tories will be hoping the Clean Air Zone row could at least mitigate the possible damage it faces from national scandal swirling around Boris Johnson’s government. But the Liberal Democrats, buoyed by the Ancoats and Beswick by-election win in Manchester this year, will be putting themselves forward as a credible alternative to voters – while the Green Party and a raft of independents and hyperlocal parties are also eager to make their mark.
And each borough has its own local issues which voters will also be focused on, from green belt development rows to potholes on roads. Electors are being asked who they want to represent them and run their local services on the council.
Polls will open at 7am tomorrow (May 5) and close at 10pm. Counts will begin up and down the country through the night, before residents will wake up to the first results the following day.
What’s happening in Greater Manchester?
Voters will head to the polls to elect members onto all 10 Greater Manchester councils. Results will be announced throughout Friday, from the early hours of the morning into the evening.
Bolton is expected to be the region’s first council to declare its results at 12.30am, with a third of the council’s 60 seats up for grabs. The local authority is one of the key ones to watch as Labor hopes to wrestle control back from the Conservatives, who have run a minority administration since 2019 – while a number of independents, Liberal Democrats and Reform/Bolton For Change will be hoping for some successes.
Tameside is expected to be the region’s next council to declare at 1am, with one-third of the council’s 57 seats available. Traditionally a Labor stronghold, the Conservatives will be hoping to add to their five members, aided by the backlash to plans for Godley Green garden village which has ultimately led to a leadership challenge.
The region’s third council to declare is expected to be wigan at 1.30am, where a third of 75 seats are available. Labor currently dominates the council with 57 members and will be hoping to tighten its grip on power if Conservative candidates suffer nationally, but independent candidates could also do well.
Oldham is due to follow at 2.15am, where one seat is up for grabs in almost every ward, except Medlock Vale where two members will be elected. Labor will want to tighten its control in the first election under Arooj Shah’s leadership, while the Lib Dems and Conservatives will hope to add to their current number of eight members each, and the Failsworth Independent Party will want another successful year – having ousted former Labor leader Sean Fielding in 2021.
A third of 60 seats will be available at Salford council, where the declaration is due at 4am. Labor dominates in the socialist stronghold and could be aided further if the Tories have a bad election nationally – Conservative group leader Les Turner was within 100 votes of losing his seat on Salford council in last year’s vote.
The last of Greater Manchester’s councils to declare in the morning will be Stockport at 6am, where one third of 63 seats are up for grabs in what will be one of the most intriguing results for the region. Labor currently runs the council despite having one less member than the Lib Dems, after the Conservatives refused to force leader Elise Wilson last year.
Three local authorities in the region will declare their results in the afternoon, including Labour-dominated Manchester at 3pm, in what is the first election since Bev Craig replaced Sir Richard Leese as leader. The Lib Dems are hoping to add to their two-strong presence, following February’s by-election win in Ancoats and Beswick, while the Green Party will hope for another gain after its first ever Manchester councilor was elected last year.
Trafford council is also expected to declare its results at 3pm, with one third of the authority’s 63 seats available, where the Conservatives will be hoping to win back ground over Labour. The Tories held control of the local authority for 14 years until 2018, before Labor won a majority in 2019 and increasing it last year – with the party currently having more than twice the number of Conservative councillors.
Rochdale will be the first of two all-out election results to be declared in Greater Manchester at 3.30pm, with every single seat up for grabs. Labor currently holds 44 of 60 seats and is expected to maintain its control of the council, while the Liberal Democrats are hoping to do well in target areas.
The final Greater Manchester council to declare its results will be bury at 8.30pm, with all 51 seats up for grabs, and Both Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and Conservative PM Boris Johnson have campaigned in the battleground borough. Labor currently holds the majority and will hope the national picture could see it strengthen its grip on power.
What about the rest of the UK?
Every local authority in Scotland and Wales is having elections on Thursday, plus 144 in England including every London borough. Almost all declarations will be made on Friday.
The first declaration is expected to take place in Cheshire, with Halton council’s result at 12.05am. It will be the first of 74 declarations to take place early on Friday morning, ending with Barnet and Barnsley councils at 7am.
No further results will be expected in the morning, before 125 declarations are made throughout the afternoon and evening. They are expected to start with Gateshead and Moray councils at 12.30pm, before ending with Bury at 8.30pm.
The final council declaration will be made in east London, with the Tower Hamlets resulting expected at 5pm. It is the only council in England, Scotland or Wales which will declare on Saturday.
In Northern Ireland, voters will head to the polls to elect members onto the assembly at Stormont. All 90 seats are up for grabs, with the first results expected from midday on Friday and the last declarations due on Saturday.
Mayoral elections are also taking place in Hackney, Newham, Lewisham, Watford, South Yorkshire, Tower Hamlets and Croydon – with all results to be declared on Friday. Meanwhile, Bristol is holding a referendum on abolishing its elected mayor.
All times given are approximate estimates and could be subject to delay, for instance if recounts take place.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.