UK local elections 2022 polls: key seats to watch across four nations - who will win on May 5th?

Amid the partygate scandal and cost of living crisis, which party is most likely to make the most gains in the local elections?

Voters across the four nations will go to the polls on Thursday (5 May) to elect councillors in their local region.

A lot is at stake for all the major parties, with Labour hoping to gain on recent wins in the polls and the Conservatives wanting to secure wins despite the latest partygate scandal and handling of the cost of living crisis.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The Liberal Democrats and Greens are also looking to make an impact, after recent gains in parliament and council by-elections.

Here we explain what recent polls say for the local elections and who is likely to win in May.

What are the polls saying nationally?

Based on an average of the polls, Labour currently has the strongest public support with 42% saying they would vote for this party at a national election.

The Conservatives boosted their position in the polls following the invasion of Ukraine but the partygate scandal has seen them drop to 34%.

Liberal Democrats have benefited from the scandal, now reaching 11% of the vote.

In Scotland, around 39% of adults are favouring the Scottish National Party, followed by Labour at 17% and the Conservatives at 10% - according to YouGov.

What could happen in England?

The Tories have the highest proportion of councillors across the country, a position they are unlikely to lose. Most English councils are electing just a third or half of their councillors, meaning major overhauls will be difficult.

Labour are the largest party in 72 of the councils up for grabs and so have the most to lose compared to the Conservatives. They have the majority predominantly in the North of England and London.

However, they recently lost their overall majorities in Burnley, Rossendale and West Lancashire - so the party will be looking to retake overall control while rebuilding its Red Wall in the North.

Labour could see opportunity in Hartlepool and Bolton which are currently dominated by the Tories.

In Sheffield and Kirklees the party are just a few councillors away from an overall majority in each.

If they flip two seats from the Tories in Southampton they will be able to claim a majority.

They are also just two shy from a majority in Worthing - a council they have never held.

However, if Labour don’t do well in areas such as Hyndburn, Chorley and Pendle, the Conservatives could inch closer to taking the highest number of councillors.

The Tories have the majority in 45 of the contest councils, all of which are outside of the North of England.

However, these majorities in southern areas such as West Oxfordshire and Huntingdonshire are very thin - if they lose three seats in each they would lose an absolute majority.

The Liberal Democrats will be wanting to close the gap in these seats as well as in Portsmouth, Gosport, Woking and Wokingham.

A majority is in reach for the party in Stockport and Hull with just four councillors needed to take back from a current Labour council.

Meanwhile in London, the Tories will be looking to put the pressure on outer boroughs such as Merton and Croydon.

If they have a bad night they could lose Wandsworth - a council they have controlled since 1977.

What could happen in Wales?

All seats are up for grabs in Wales, but Labour currently hold a majority in a third of the councils. The party could lose seats in Cardiff or Port Talbot where their control has begun to wane.

In Monmouthshire, the Conservatives could lose their one majority if two seats are taken from them - but they would still remain the largest party.

Plaid Cymru will look to have a majority in Anglesey, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, as well as maintaining their current majority in Gwynedd.

What could happen in Scotland?

The SNP is the largest party, with polling suggesting greater support for independence than five years ago.

The party is hoping to secure a majority in Dundee, Clackmannanshire, Glasgow and Renfrewshire - where they are only a couple of councillors away from doing so.

If they have a good night they could see majorities in Midlothian and Falkirk.

Labour will be looking to claim a majority in East Lothian and North Lanarkshire but it will depend if voters stick with the Nationalists.

The Tories have made moves in recent elections in Perth and Kinross, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

What could happen in Northern Ireland?

For the first time ever, a nationalist party may become the largest in the Assembly.

Sinn Féin has been the second-biggest party since 2003 but it is confident of winning more seats than the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) this time around.

Michelle O’Neill remains on course to secure Stormont’s top job in May with her party up one point to 26%, according to a LucidTalk opinion poll for the Belfast Telegraph.

The DUP is failing to narrow the electoral gap with Sinn Fein, although it has strengthened its position within unionism as support for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the more hard-line Traditional Unionist voice (TUV) falls.

The DUP is running fewer candidates this time than it did at the last assembly election.

It performed poorly by its own standards in other recent elections, including the 2019 UK general election when it lost two seats.

Meanwhile the other main nationalist party the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is hoping it can hold on to its position as the third-biggest party and is targeting seats such as Strangford.