Local elections May 2023 lookahead 

Ben Farmer

Account Manager

On Thursday 4th May 2023 voters across England will head to the ballot box for local elections. 

Elections will be held across the country, including for district councils, unitary authorities, and directly-elected mayors.  

The full list of areas is available here. There are no elections in London this time around and Northern Ireland will follow on 18th May with elections for all local councils. 

May’s local elections will be the first major electoral test for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with CCHQ understood to be fully focused on a successful local campaign under the supervision of newly appointed party chairman Greg Hands. The Conservatives will be under pressure to hold their gains in the ‘Red Wall’, whilst defending the growing challenge from Lib Dems and Labour in traditionally Conservative areas across the south. 

Labour will be keen to prove their new-found poll gains translate into electoral success, with Keir Starmer aiming to use the local elections to show that the party is on the path to electoral victory at the next general election. 

The local elections will also be notable as all voters will require photo ID in order to vote following the passing of the Elections Act 2022. The changes were introduced to prevent voter fraud and impersonation, even though the government itself admitted that levels of voter fraud are low. The change has been criticised, including by Labour and the SNP, as unnecessary and overcomplicated, with concern that some people could be turned away at polling stations due to a lack of ID. Meanwhile, several groups including the Local Government Association and the Association of Electoral Administrators have raised concerns that the timetable to introduce voter ID in time for the May 2023 elections is undeliverable and unworkable. Ahead of polling day, the Government are planning a widespread information campaign, including information about the free ID available, to help alleviate any concerns.  

Below we’ve highlighted some of the key councils to watch ahead of the elections: 

 

Bury Council  

Bury is currently controlled by the Labour Party (28 seats, to 12 Conservatives). One of the Westminster parliamentary seats within the council area is Bury North which has the smallest Westminster majority in England and is currently held by Conservative MP James Daly. 

 

Mansfield District Council 

Mansfield council currently has no overall control (14 Lab; 14 Ind; 1 Con) so is ‘up for grabs’ this time around. Mansfield MP Ben Bradley is seen as the ‘first blue brick in the red wall’ after Bradley initially won the seat in 2017. 

 

Leicester City Council  

2021 Census Data revealed that Leicester is one of the first cities in the UK to have a non-white majority. With the introduction of the new voter ID rules expected to significantly impact a range of communities including minority-ethnic communities, turnout, and the result in Leicester could be worth keeping an eye on. 

 

Wakefield Council 

After the 2019 Conservative General Election victory, Wakefield returned a Labour MP at the 2022 by-election (+8.1 swing). Can Labour retain popularity in the city? At the moment, the council is controlled comfortably by Labour (63 seats to 13 Conservatives). 

 

Bath and North East Somerset  

Bath and North East Somerset has been controlled by the Liberal Democrats since 2019 – can they retain control in this ‘blue wall’ region? The Lib Dems will be focusing on a range of seats in the South West ahead of the next general election so results this year could be a useful indication of whether or not the Lib Dems can expect to take seats from the Conservatives’ Blue Wall next year.  

 

Mid Devon District Council  

This council includes the area of the Tiverton and Honiton parliamentary constituency, which turned Liberal Democrat in June 2022 after Conservative incumbent Neil Parish resigned after admitting to watching pornography in the House of Commons. Another ‘blue wall’ region council, the leadership is currently led by a coalition of Conservatives and Independents. 

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