Local elections 2022: What are London’s key council battlegrounds as polls open?

Voters in 32 London boroughs are casting ballots for their local councillors, with 1,817 seats are up for election across the city.

Polls opened at 7am this morning as voters across the country are set to cast their ballots in the latest round of local elections.

Council seats across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could change hands.

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Residents are deciding who they want to run services from housing and libraries to social care and bin collections.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives with his wife Victoria to cast his vote at a polling station on May 5, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Photo: Getty

And depending on the outcome the day could prove to be a vote of confidence for Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, or a boost for Keir Starmer’s Labour opposition.

LondonWorld has rounded up everything you need to know about Local Elections 2022.

What’s happening in London?

Voters in 32 London boroughs are casting ballots for their local councillors, while the City of London held its elections last month.

1,817 seats are up for election across the city, or just over 41% of the total number.

Labour currently hold 21 boroughs across London, while the Conservatives run seven.

The Liberal Democrats hold three boroughs, while one council is under no overall control.

London’s 32 boroughs after the 2018 election. Photo: London Councils

The Conservative-held councils south of the river are Bromley, Bexley and Wandsworth, while north of the river, it’s Barnet, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster.

Kingston, Richmond and Sutton make up the Liberal Democrats’ so-called ‘golden crescent’ in the capital - all west London boroughs south of the river.

While Havering council leans Tory, with 25 Conservative councillors, and 24 Independents to Labour’s five, but is ultimately under no overall control.

Labour holds the majority of the boroughs, running the north London councils Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Hounslow, Islington, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.

The party also holds the south London boroughs of Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, and Southwark.

What could change?

The three main boroughs which have been talked up as potential Labour swings are Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Starmer’s party made gains in the capital in 2018, then-led by Jeremy Corbyn, who now no longer holds the whip, meaning he is currently an independent MP.

Having had their second-strongest set of results in the capital ever, amid the chaos of the Brexit negotiations, Labour have a tough task to top their previous performance.

Barnet is a key goal for them which they had hoped to win in 2018, but failed to take due to widespread anger over anti-Semitism.

Post-Corbyn, Starmer will be hoping he’s done enough to win back the trust of voters in the borough, where around a third of the British Jewish population resides.

Meanwhile in Wandsworth, home to mayor Sadiq Khan’s and famously the low council tax capital of the UK, they will be hoping concern over the cost of living crisis will secure victory in a borough held by just three Conservative seats.

And in Westminster, activists hope damage to the Tory brand from the partygate scandal could see Labour move ahead here.

While the Conservative camp will be hoping to dislodge Labour in scandal-hit Croydon, which effectively declared itself bankrupt in 2020 and is being investigated for fraud.

And Harrow, with a slim Labour majority, and a gain of two Conservative seats in the last elections, is another glimmer of optimism for Boris Johnson’s party in the capital.

What else is going on?

Former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman, who was convicted of electoral fraud and removed from office in 2014, is back on the ballot in east London.

He was banned from standing for office for five years but has now set up a new party, Aspire, to enable him to run again.

The ex-Labour councillor says he has always maintained his innocence, but was found guilty by a court of electoral crimes.

His bid to re-enter public life has included endorsements from ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone and US civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson.

The Liberal Democrats are also hoping to expand their ‘golden crescent’ and take seats in Wimbledon.

While the Green Party and the Women’s Equality Party have said they are fighting to hold Labour-run councils accountable and to get issues of violence against women and girls and childcare taken seriously in the political sphere.

What’s happening UK-wide?

Today, (Thursday May 5), elections are taking place in 144 of England’s 333 councils.

This breaks down into 33 of 36 metropolitan boroughs, 60 of 181 district councils, and 21 of 58 unitary authorities, plus a further four new unitary systems which take effect from 2023.

Bristol is also holding a local referendum to decide if the city should keep its mayoral system and the south Yorkshire metro mayor post is also up for election after Dan Jarvis left the role.

Northern Ireland is holding its first set of elections to the assembly since the UK left the EU.

And all local council seats are up for election in Wales and Scotland.

In total, 4,411 council seats are being contested.

Local elections 2022