Vote counting under way in local elections across England and Wales – what to expect

Vote counting under way in local elections across England and Wales - what to expect

Vote counting is under way after polls closed in local elections taking place across England and Wales.

More than 2,600 council seats across 107 councils are up for grabs in England, alongside 11 mayoral elections, a parliamentary seat and police and crime commissioners throughout England and Wales.

Polls opened at 7am and closed at 10pm.

Local elections: Follow the results live

Sky News will be covering the results overnight with a special programme hosted by Jonathan Samuels beginning at midnight, and coverage into the weekend.

The results unfolding in the next hours and days will give an indicator of public opinion on the political parties as the UK heads towards a general election.

Labour is hoping to make gains across the country, while the Conservatives will hope to minimise losses as they sit around 20 points behind the opposition in the polls.

More on Conservatives

Keen attention will be paid to the mayoral races being held in the West Midlands and the Tees Valley – Red Wall seats that the Conservatives won under Boris Johnson with mayors Andy Street and Lord Ben Houchen respectively.

Losses there could prove difficult for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – with rumours that if both turn red it could spark a leadership contest.

Labour‘s Sadiq Khan is hoping to win a record third term as the mayor of London, running against the Conservative’s Susan Hall, with 25 seats on the London Assembly also up for grabs.

Read more on local elections:
What does victory and defeat look like – Beth Rigby

How key areas are predicted to vote – Sam Coates

Sky’s election coverage plan – how to follow

Thursday into Friday: From 12am until 6am, Jonathan Samuels will be joined by political correspondents Tamara Cohen and Gurpreet Narwan, as well as teams from across the country.

Friday: Lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge and chief presenter Mark Austin will be joined by political editor Beth Rigby and deputy political editor Sam Coates throughout the day, as well as economics and date editor Ed Conway and election analyst Professor Michael Thrasher.

Friday night: From 7pm until 9pm, Sophy Ridge will host a special edition of the Politics Hub, offering a full analysis and breakdown of the local elections.

The weekend: Sophy Ridge will host another special edition of the Politics Hub on Saturday from 7pm until 9pm. And Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips will take a look back over what’s happened from 8.30am until 10am.

How do I watch?: Freeview 233, Sky 501, Virgin 603, BT 313, YouTube and the Sky News website and app. You can also watch Sky News live here, and on YouTube.

And the Electoral Dysfunction podcast with Beth Rigby, Jess Phillips and Ruth Davidson will go out on Friday, and Politics at Jack and Sam’s will navigate the big question of where the results leave us ahead of a general election on Sunday.

There are further mayoral elections in the East Midlands, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the North East, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and York & North Yorkshire. An election is also taking place for the Salford city mayor.

A parliamentary by-election is taking place in Blackpool South to replace the former Conservative MP Scott Benton, who left parliament following a lobbying scandal.

The Tories are defending a majority of 3,690 – much smaller than several of those overturned by Labour in recent years.

In total, 37 police and crime commissioners are being elected across England and Wales – although two of those PCC roles are being absorbed into a mayor’s responsibilities, in South Yorkshire and York & North Yorkshire.

Speaking on the Political Currency podcast, former Conservative chancellor George Osborne said losing the West Midlands would be “pretty bad” for Mr Sunak, while losing the Tees Valley would be “armageddon”.

“There will be people in the Conservative Parliamentary Party saying, ‘Change course, change leader’,” he said, adding: “You would never have guessed 20 years ago that the future of the Tory leadership would depend on how people are voting in Teesside. But I think right now, that is the case.”

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The last time these council elections took place, the then prime minister Boris Johnson was riding high in the polls following the success of the vaccine rollout – taking his party to their best performance in the locals since 2008.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said it was going to be “difficult to achieve on that”.

Asked if this was an admission the party is less popular under Mr Sunak than it was under Mr Johnson, Mr Harper said it was the context of having a “vaccine bounce” and coming out of the pandemic that made the party popular in 2021.

And Mr Sunak was at the time “the chancellor, who found the money to pay for rolling the vaccine out”.

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Local elections: Why they matter

In last year’s local elections – which were for different areas – Labour snatched key battlegrounds from the Conservatives but not at a rate high enough to indicate the opposition was on course to win if a general election took place.

This key metric, known as National Equivalent Vote (NEV), will be tracked over the weekend by Sky News election analyst Professor Michael Thrasher.

Asked what success would look like, Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Pat McFadden said his party is looking at the Blackpool South by-election “which is the only result where Rishi Sunak and the government are really on the ballot paper”.

A win there will show “real progress”, Mr McFadden said.

Asked about his party’s prospects in Tees Valley and the West Midlands, the veteran Labour MP said the Tories hanging on would “only be because they put as much distance as possible between themselves and Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party brand”.

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The Liberal Democrats will also hope to pick up some wins after targeting so-called Blue Wall areas that traditionally vote Conservative.

Speaking after the polls closed, party leader Sir Ed Davey said: “The message across the country today was loud and clear. Voters want an end to this appalling Conservative government.

“That is why, up and down the country, so many lifelong Conservative voters backed the Liberal Democrats today, because they know Liberal Democrat councillors will never take them for granted and fight for the issues they care about.”

How many seats/councils are parties defending?

The Conservatives are defending 985 seats, Labour 965 and the Liberal Democrats 410.

The Greens hold 107 seats, while independents have 112 and other parties the remaining 57.

Labour currently has majority control in 45 of the 107 councils. The Conservatives control 18 and the Lib Dems 10.

Just under a third, 34 councils, are under no overall control.

Key battlegrounds

After a survey of 9,000 people, this is how YouGov thinks these key votes will go
After a survey of 9,000 people, this is how YouGov thinks these key votes will go

When it comes to councils, areas to watch out for include Hyndburn, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Tamworth, Reigate and Banstead, Hull, Walsall, Colchester, Stockport, Sheffield, Solihull, North East Lincolnshire, Lincoln, Peterborough, Rugby and Thurrock.

Sky News and YouGov asked around 9,000 people how they intend to vote, and used this to forecast how these will change.

Labour looks set to make a number of gains – although some races are too close to call.

Follow our live coverage of the election results from midnight – find the full details here