The Black Country has four administrative authorities within its boundary. These are Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, City of Wolverhampton Council, and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Sandwell Council has 72 seats in total, of which 24 are up for election in May 2022. It is a Labour-led council and would need a swing of 25 seats to change control. This is impossible in the upcoming election.
The government has intervened in the running of Sandwell Council which may sway voters. However, the council since its formation in 1973 has been Labour-led bar one year in 1978. Despite the troubles the council has faced over the years the constituents have continually put their faith in Labour. In the 2021 local elections, the Conservative Party did take nine seats from Labour.
There has been news on councillors who have been deselected. Four Labour councillors of Asian backgrounds were deselected in November 2021 after failing to pass their selection panel interviews. This prompted members of the Muslim and Sikh communities to protest about the “institutionally racist” selection process.
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
Dudley Council is currently led by the Conservative Party. A swing of 11 seats is needed to change control of the council. With 24 seats up for election, this is possible although unlikely.
Historically, Dudley Council has has varying periods under Conservative and Labour control and periods of No Overall Control. In 2021 Labour lost 11 seats to the Conservative which handed control to the Conservatives following a five year period of No Overall Control.
Councillor Judy Foster, the Deputy Leader of Labour is one councillor who may be re-selected. Considering in 2018 Councillor Foster only narrowly won by 47 votes and last year’s results overall, losing her seat would be bad for Labour’s hopes.
Four Conservative councillors to watch out for are the Leader of the Council, Councillor Patrick Harley; Councillor Nicolas Barlow, Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Social Care; Councillor Shaun Keasey, Cabinet Member for Digital, Customer & Commercial Services; and Councillor Andrea Goddard, Development Committee Chair. All won by fairly comfortable margins in 2018.
City of Wolverhampton Council
Wolverhampton Council has only ever been Labour-led or under No Overall Control. The city has been under Labour Control since 2011. In May 2022 residents will be voting for one-third of their representatives. For the council to change a swing of 14 seats is needed, considering the council’s history we consider this unlikely.
In last year’s local elections Labour lost five seats to the Conservatives. In May 2022 Labour have several seats up for election represented by their Cabinet Members and it’ll be key for them to hold on to these. All had significant majorities, so it is unlikely we will see significant change.
Labour councillor Mary Bateman has been reselected to represent the Wednesfield North ward in Wolverhampton. Councillor Bateman has represented Wednesfield North ward since 2014 and is expected to win re-election having previously had a majority of 54%.
On the Conservative side, they have already deselected their Deputy Leader, Councillor Simon Bennett. It is not known why the local branch of the party turned against him. Councillor Bennett said: “Each ward has its own selection meetings and this decision has been made. It’s a ward-based decision – it’s happened and it is what it is. I have the full support of my colleagues and the group are fully behind me. This allows me to pursue and seek selection in another suitable ward.”
It has been announced Councillor Bennett will contest the Bushbury North seat currently held by Councillor Alan Butt, Labour. With only a majority of 64 votes in 2018, it will be a hotly contested seat.
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
From its formation in 1973 until 2000, Walsall Council went through a period of Labour control or No Overall Control. Post-2000 it has been under Conservative Control or No Overall Control. Currently, it is under Conservative control and has been since 2019.
Last year’s elections saw the Conservative Party gain three seats from Labour. In May 2022, Labour Leader, Councillor Aftab Nawaz, is likely to be up for election.
Senior Walsall councillor, John Murray, Conservative, failed to win re-selection for Aldridge Central & South, a ward he has held since 2011. Instead, Conservatives ‘overwhelmingly’ voted for local man Bobby Bains.
Other Conservative councillors that may be standing in May are Councillor Oliver Butler, Cabinet Member for Clean & Green; Councillor Stephen Craddock, Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing; Councillor Mark Stratham, Cabinet Member for Internal Services; and Councillor Christopher Towe, Cabinet Member for Education & Skills. Councillor Stratham was only narrowly elected in 2018.