Local elections in Greater Manchester could see biggest shake up in years

  • More than 4,000 seats are being contested in England
  • View our interactive map to see who’s running in Manchester
  • ‘Partygate’ could be detrimental in Bolton

Councils up and down the country are preparing for game-changing local elections next week.

The majority of seats up for election on Thursday 5 May have not been challenged since 2018, when the PM was Theresa May and the UK was still part of the EU. 

With so much changing over recent years the Northern Quota takes a look at the past, present and future of the political landscape in Manchester.

Withington, Deansgate and Didsbury collage
Many Manchester seats up for election in May have not been challenged since 2018

Voters in England, Wales, and Scotland will pick who they want to run services that affect everyday life in their local area.

The results are likely to reflect how people feel about the handling of Covid and the rising cost of living.

In England alone there are more than 4,350 seats across more than 140 councils up for grabs on Thursday.

Because of the massive number of seats being contested, the results are likely to show a clearer picture of the national mood.

There are 32 wards making up Manchester City Council, which have three councillors each (with the exception of Crumpsall which currently has two).

On Thursday, more than 130 councillors are in the running for Manchester seats.

Each ward has at least one seat up for grabs, and as the 2021 election taught us, this one seat can make a big difference.

Looking Back

Last year’s local elections saw some changes in the political line-up.

One big change in 2021 saw the Green Party celebrate a victory over Labour in Woodhouse Park (home of Manchester Airport). This secured their first seat on the council since 2008.

Labour managed to hold the vast majority of its seats in the borough. It also puts some distance between themselves and the Lib Dems in Ancoats and Beswick and Withington.

2021 also saw a wide variation in voter turnout. 51% of residents from Didsbury East voted in the local elections, compared with 19% of residents voting in Fallowfield.

Looking forward

Manchester has been Labour dominated for many years, but this election could see a dramatic change in Ancoats and Beswick. The Lib Dems are trying to win a second seat here after having won the by-election in February.

Chris Northwood, the campaign manager for the February by-election win, is up for the second seat.

Northwood works in technology for a local start-up. They build tools for university staff and students to report bullying and sexual harassment.

If Northwood win, she would become Manchester’s first-ever openly trans councillor.

Another ward to watch is Woodhouse Park. The Green Party’s Rob Nunney won last year’s local election with 1,355 votes, with 48% of votes cast in the area. This year for the first time, Astrid Johnson representing the Green Party will run for Woodhouse Park. Johnson has previously run for Charletown and Sharston.

The other three candidates for the ward are Anna Hablak (Lib Dems) who has run for the role since 2019, getting 42 votes last year. Labour’s Sarah Jayne Judge is up again and Stephen James McHugh (the Conservative Party) joins after securing 610 for Northenden in 2021.

It could also be all change at Piccadilly, with four new councillors stepping up for role.

In Didsbury West in 2021 the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) gained 72 votes of the 12,335 electorate. The party has no candidates running for 2022 in this area, so these floating votes could make a difference.

Polling Station This way sign
Councils up and down the country prepare for local elections

Bigger picture

Thursday’s  election is being seen as more than a vote on local issues, with many commentators viewing it as a litmus test for the Conservative party.

Just 10 days before the crucial local polls Boris Johnson headed back on the campaign trail.

The PM visited Bury, which is part of the political ‘red wall’ as it has historically tended to support the Labour party.

With the partygate scandal, which saw the PM fined for breaching lockdown, still lingering the May elections could be an omen for Mr Johnsons future.

At Bury FC on Monday, the PM batted off some scandal questions saying: “The Conservative councillors up and down the country deliver taxpayer value.

“That’s what really matters.”

Bury and Rochdale are the two Greater Manchester boroughs which are having an ‘all out’ election, meaning all seats are up for grabs.

At the last local election, Conservatives made an overall gain of three seats, making it the largest party in the Bolton. Labour sees that 2022 may be an opportunity to alter this.

In a press release, Bolton Labour said: “These elections could change who runs the council, so you deserve to know what Labour’s plans are if you elect us.”

With so many seats up for grabs the political landscape may have a dramatic change.

Just like last year The Northern Quota will be covering the live count for Manchester wards on Friday 6 May. To follow us and the breaking news on the day keep an eye on our NQ Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.