Local elections 2022: key battlegrounds to look out for in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

The handling of Covid and the cost of living crisis could see shock election results across UK councils

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A total of 200 local authorities across the UK are holding elections on Thursday (5 May).

Every council seat in Scotland, Wales and London is up for grabs and there are polls across much of the rest of England.

This year’s local elections are likely to be a verdict on the handling of national issues such as Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Here are some of the key contests to look out for across the four nations.

North-west England


Bury has all of its 51 seats up for grabs this year. Labour has run the council since 2011 but has only a small majority and will want to improve its position in what is the party’s traditional heartland of Greater Manchester.

Bury’s status in this year’s elections was reflected by the fact Sir Keir and Mr Johnson both visited the town during the campaign.


Bolton will be another key test for Labour in Greater Manchester, where they hope to take back control from the Conservatives who have run a minority administration since 2019.

North-east England


Hartlepool will see the Tories and Labour fighting to be in with a chance of taking overall control of the council – or failing that, end up the largest party and lead a minority administration or a coalition. A strong showing by independent candidates could spice up the outcome of this year’s contest.

Yorkshire & the Humber


Kirklees  is currently run by Labour but the party does not have a majority. Just two gains by Labour would give it overall control - but both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are also hoping to do well.

West Midlands


Labour faces challenges on many fronts while the Tories look to hold David Skinner’s old seat in this year’s City Council race. The Conservatives are looking to make gains locally against a national backdrop that is unlikely to help their efforts.


Some key seats that were neck and neck in Birmingham’s last local election in 2018 include Quinton, where less than 100 votes separated Conservative candidate Georgina Chandler and eventual winner John Clancey of Labour. One seat to be blown wide open is Holyhead, which will be officially relinquished by the new MP for Erdington Cllr Paulette Hamilton on May 5.

East Midlands


Derby is currently run by the Tories as a minority party. Labour will be looking to make gains in another test of party’s ability to win back support in urban areas of central England.

Eastern England

St Albans

St Albans saw the Liberal Democrats make enough gains in 2021 to take overall control, but with a slim majority. The party will want to improve its numbers this year as an example of how it is now the main opposition to the Conservatives in parts of the so-called “Blue Wall” of southern England.


Peterborough is a long-running Conservative-Labour battleground and for decades the council has see-sawed between a Tory majority and no overall control. It is currently run by a minority Conservative administration and Labour will want to make gains to show it is recovering in a city it lost to the Tories at the 2019 general election.



A classic swing area, Croydon is always one to watch regardless of the type of election taking place. Labour currently has a solid 11 seat majority on the council, but all 70 seats are up for grabs this May.


It has been held by the Tories continuously since its creation in 1964. But Labour has slowly increased its number of councillors at recent elections and will want to make more progress this time.

South-east England


Crawley has tilted between Conservative and Labour control in recent years but neither party has an overall majority. It would take only a couple of gains for either the Tories or Labour to take full control of a council deep in the commuter belt of West Sussex.


It is a top Labour target and the party goes into the election level-pegging with the Conservatives on 17 seats each. The Tories currently run the council as a minority administration but Labour has made steady gains in recent years and is hoping to take full control this year.


It is another Labour target and winning control from the Conservatives would help demonstrate the party is building back support in southern towns and cities. The Tories are defending a majority of two and a third of the seats are being contested.

South-west England


Somserset is undergoing major changes this year in its system of local government. Elections are taking place for all 110 seats in the new-look organisation, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats fighting for control.



Cardiff is a key council for Labour, where the party will hope to defend its slim majority.


Flintshire sits in an area of Wales, the north east, where the Conservatives did well at the 2019 general election. The party won only six council seats in 2017 compared with Labour’s 34, so they are hoping to make an advance this year.


East Renfrewshire

It is a three-way battle between the Conservatives, Labour and the SNP with each hoping to end up the largest party.


Edinburgh has been run by a joint SNP-Labour administration for the last five years, but the Conservatives head into this election as the largest party on the council. The Lib Dems and Greens have a smaller number of councillors but both will hope to make gains from the larger parties.


Glasgow council has been run by the SNP since 2017 in what has been their first stint in control of the city, albeit as a minority administration. The party needs only a few gains to take full control, but Labour – which had previously run the city since 1980 – is keen to stop them.

Northern Ireland


The constituency which covers Derry city is a key test for Sinn Féin, the SDLP and DUP. Sinn Féin is aiming to retain its two seats and will be hoping that a local party shake-up following internal problems has shored up its vote.


The DUP is under pressure to retain all three of its seats in the constituency after scraping through a closely fought Assembly election contest in 2017.

West Tyrone

A challenge for Alliance is gaining ground west of the Bann in mainly nationalist constituencies where it has historically struggled. Stephen Donnelly is one of their best hopes in these areas having secured a council seat in Omagh during local government elections in 2019.