Local Elections 2019: Will you vote in this week’s election?
VOTERS will head to polling stations across England and Northern Ireland for local elections this Thursday.
There are 8,425 seats up for grabs in a total of 248 councils in England as well as another 462 seats in Northern Ireland. As it stands, in England more than half the councils are controlled by the Tories and 67 by Labour. Seven are held by the Lib Dems and 35 have no overall control. The remaining five are new councils, owing to local authority mergers.
Brexit is hard to ignore right now but many voters will be motivated by local issues from bin collections, to parking and housing.
Still, the polls will be a big test for Theresa May, who has angered many Brexit voters both inside and outside her party by delaying the UK’s departure from the EU.
There are no elections in London this year, but voters will be going to polls almost everywhere else.
You can check whether or not your area is holding a local election vote in 2019, and who the candidates are, by going to whocanivotefor.co.uk.
It comes as many are predicting a backlash at the Tory Party over the Brexit mess, with many activists reporting anger at the doorsteps.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has predicted “hard-working Tory councillors” will see the Conservative Party to victory, however.
And he said the voters will resist the change to send a message to Mrs May. He wrote: “This may be too optimistic, and I may be proved wrong – but I am starting to think that people can make a crucial distinction at this election on May 2.”
Here are the main parties taking party in England.
The Green Party is looking to boost its presence in Brighton. The 54 seats are up for grabs in the council which they ran between 2011 and 2015.
As the new centrist party Change UK did not register in time to put up candidates for the local elections. The pro-Remain Green party could be in favour for Remain voters.
Labour is one to watch. Their stance on Brexit - respecting the referendum result but seeking to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market - could appeal to Remain and Leave voters, or it could alienate both.
Outside of Brexit, Labour’s most eye-catching local election pledge is to provide new funding of £1.3bn a year to reverse cuts made to bus routes by Tories since 2010 and to fund the expansion of bus services.
They also announced plans for an increase in the number of home care packages for older people living with dementia.
Historically, Labour have done better in the bigger cities rather than the UK’s small towns.
This year, key targets for Labour are Calderdale, Redcar and Cleveland and Trafford, all Labour minority councils, as well as Stoke-on-Trent and Derby, two councils controlled by a coalition of Tories, independents and smaller parties. Ukip is putting up a big fight in Derby, however.
New analysis by Tory peer Lord Hayward suggests the Conservatives are set to lose more than 800 seats at the polls on Thursday, as voters punish Theresa May over the failure to take the UK out of the European Union on time.
The Conservative party will watch Trafford local elections closely as it is a Labour-run, minority administration. Modest gains would give Labour full control in this authority. The same applies in Dudley which is another high profile bellwether or Party fortunes.
Opinion polls also suggest the Conservatives lie a distant third behind the Brexit Party and Labour in the European vote.
UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY
UKip is sending out about 1,400 candidates while the newly launched Brexit party focus their attention on the European elections.
But with internal arguments and without the charisma of ex-leader, Nigel Farage, UKIP is set to flop.
Brexit remains a key priority. Earlier this month, UKIP leader, Gerard Batten said the local elections are the “next opportunity for the British people to punish the political establishment for their Brexit betrayal”.
The Lib Dems hope to make gains in Bath and North East Somerset, as well in York, which has a strong remain vote.
Vince Cable’s party also hope to gain Stockport from the minority Labour council and needs just one seat to gain the cathedral city of Winchester.
Writing in PoliticsHome, leader, Vince Cable said: “I expect the Lib Dems to do well on the back of a good record in local government, a public appetite for breaking up the two party system, and – in many areas – the chance to ‘send a message’ to Westminster on Brexit too.”