Tories hold on to flagship London councils after Labour challenge

Blanche Robertson
May 4, 2018

Contests are being staged across 150 councils with more than 4,300 seats up for grabs; there are no elections at all this year in Scotland. However, a parliamentary by-election for the Westminster seat of West Tyrone is taking place. There will also be full coverage on the BBC News Channel and, on radio, on 5 live.

Local polls for council and mayoral seats opened today across England, the first electoral test for Prime Minister Theresa May since the snap general election past year.

Daily Star Online earlier reported the councils to watch for possible Conservative gains include Portsmouth, Basildon, Thurrock, Peterborough and Colchester, all of which could see the party win overall control on a relatively small swing.

Carrie Symonds, the Conservative Party's director of communications, said Labour "threw the kitchen sink" at Wandsworth, adding it was "brilliant news" they had failed.

"In part that is the result of the UKIP vote collapse and the Conservatives are advancing most strongly in Leave areas where Ukip were previously strongest". Dudley, where an imploding UKIP now has five seats, could prove ample feeding for both parties to boost their council numbers.

Shadow cabinet minister Jonathan Ashworth acknowledged that Labour had "a lot of work to do", but insisted it was making progress across the country creating "a basis we can build upon for the next general election".

- Unlike national elections that decide seats in parliament, or the 2016 European Union referendum, Thursday's (May 3) elections are open to European Union nationals registered and resident in electing boroughs.

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Hillingdon remained in Conservative hands and Mr Corbyn's party fell well short of the upsets some had predicted in Tory strongholds Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington.

The two main parties, however, both lost control of key councils outside the capital.

Liberal Democrats have gained a handful of seats in councils such as Liverpool, Hull and Portsmouth and are fighting to take Richmond upon Thames.

There were reports on Thursday of some people being prevented from voting after turning up without the required identity documents, in areas which are trialling voter ID.

Angela Wilkins, leader of the Labour group in Bromley, said five people were unable to vote at polling stations as a result of the pilot and the scheme also caused long delays. And in Woking, a councillor said a voter was turned away because his form of ID, a Surrey County Council document with his picture on it, was not accepted.

Charity worker Joe Batty, 54, cast his ballot when polls opened in the borough of Islington at 7am (0600 GMT)."The cuts to the local councils, that's come from the central government austerity", he said.

"This is a pilot, an evidence-based approach, and obviously we will consider the pilot and decide the best way to go forward".

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