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Local Elections

Wales Insight


This year Wales will see elections to all seats of all twenty-one Local Authorities. Wales has historically been seen as a Labour stronghold with the party topping the poll in every Wales-wide election since 1918 until 2009 when the Conservatives beat them to second place in the European Parliament Election of that year.

Despite the result in 2009 and a second blip in the 2019 European Parliament election, where The Brexit Party came first, Labour has returned to relative dominance in Wales in Local, Senedd and General selections.

Whilst Labour has recovered its position at the top of the table in recent years, the presence of the Welsh-nationalist Plaid Cymru and range of independents on the Welsh political scene means this doesn’t necessarily translate into huge numbers of seats and control of Council at the local level, particularly not in the north.

This year, Labour will be looking to repeat their success in the Senedd elections and make gains in Councils across the country at the expense of Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives. The Tories meanwhile, will be looking for an indication of whether their Welsh “Red Wall” seats, such as Wrexham and Ynys Mon and Delyn, may be under threat from a resurgent Labour at the next General Election.

Blaenau Gwent Council is holding all-out elections this year, with 42 seats available across 16 wards.


Independents currently have 29 members, whilst Labour has 13. In 2012, the Labour Party had firm control of Blaneau Gwent council, with 33 seats.


However, at the May 2017 council elections the numbers of Labour councillors was greatly reduced, with the Independents winning majority control. The Conservatives and Greens failed to win any seats.


In March 2022, the Blaenau Gwent council leader (Cllr Nigel Daniels (IND) was presented with vote of no confidence motion, relating to a 2017 issue with a waste services provider owned by the local authority.


All opposition councillors from the Labour and minority Independent group had signed the motion.

Carmarthenshire Council will hold all-out elections this year, with 74 councillors up for election across 54 wards.


Carmarthenshire Plaid Cymru, which has run the council for the last seven years in coalition with the Independent group, will be favourites to retain the leadership and control of the council. They have a combined 51 seats.

Ceredigion Council is led by a coalition of Plaid Cymru members and two independent parties, Independent Group and Independent Voice.


It is expected again that Plaid Cymru will need to form a coalition to stay in power. They held 20 seats in the last elections, with 42 up for grabs.

With boundaries taking in Wales’ largest seaside resort, Llandudno, as well as a North-East portion of the stunning Snowdonia National Park, Conwy County Borough Council’s politics are as varied as its geography.​

In elections this year, the size of the Labour Group grew by the same number of Councillors that the Conservative Group shrunk by, making the former the second largest grouping on the Council. Independents make up the largest group on the Council and, despite also shrinking in numbers the arithmetic does add up for a continuation of the Independent/Conservative agreement that has ruled the Council since 2017.

Home of seaside towns Rhyl and Prestatyn, the latter being the location of the world-famous Pontin’s Brass Band Contest until 2010, Denbighshire was a Council where the Labour Party were seeking to make some headway. Indeed they did, picking up an additional three seats which propelled them to become largest party.​

Meanwhile the Conservatives had a disastrous night, falling back nine seats and dropping from 2nd to 4th largest grouping on the Council. It is difficult to imagine that the Leadership of the Council will not change as a result of the new composition.

Labour have retained their status as the largest group on Flintshire Council despite suffering two losses on election night.​

The real winners in these elections were the Independents, who collectively have only one fewer Councillor than the total number of Labour Councillors.​

The Labour Party ran the Council as a minority administration and, if able to secure the support of the Liberal Democrats, will likely be able to continue this arrangement.

Gwynedd Council cemented its position as a Plaid Cymru stronghold in North Wales with the party retaining majority control and growing the size of their grouping on the Council. The representation of the major national parties on the Council stayed low to non-existent and the majority of opposition members sit as Independents.

Anglesey Council was another good news story for Welsh Nationalists Plaid Cymru. Here, the party took majority control of the Council by gaining five seats. The representation of the major national parties on the Council stayed low to non-existent with most opposition members sitting as Independents.​

The elections in May 2017 saw a coalition of independent groups win majority control from the Labour Party, in what was previously a stronghold.


The county borough is divided into 11 electoral wards returning 33 councillors. The current composition sees 18 Independent members across four parties, and 15 Labour members.


More than two years of formal support provided by Welsh Government to Merthyr Tydfil Council will end after the progress that has been made, although it is widely recognised there are more improvements needed.


Changes to education and social services are likely features in this year’s manifestos.

Neath Port Talbot is a Labour led council with 64 councillors. Since 1996, Labour has held the majority of seats and this is likely to continue.


Towns and villages across Neath Port Talbot are set to see improvements to roads, drainage systems, traffic management systems, cycle tracks, and parking in the coming months, after Neath Port Talbot Council pledged £4.3million of improvements to “spruce up and rejuvenate public areas in local communities”.


The ambitions of the council, coupled with the Labour stronghold should see the group maintain control of the leadership.

Elections take place every four years and are due to take place in May 2022 after being postponed in 2021 due to clashes with Senedd elections.


The council does not currently have a political party with overall control with 21 unaffiliated members, 13 Independent group seats, 11 Conservative members, seven Labour members, six Plaid Cymru members and one seat each for the Lib Dems and UKIP.


There are 19 uncontested seats this year, where there will be no vote and the incumbent member will be returned unopposed. This includes five Conservative councillors, four Labour, one Plaid Cymru member and nine independent councillors.


This is also the first time 16 and 17-year-olds can vote.

Gains came for all major parties at the expense of Independents in Powys, though the main beneficiaries were the Liberal Democrats.​

Powys is covered by two Conservative/Lib Dem marginal constituencies, Brecon & Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire. Brecon & Radnorshire was gained by the Lib Dems in the August 2019 by-election but lost to the Conservatives in the General Election later that year. Montgomeryshire was a Lib Dem (formerly Liberal) stronghold until 2010 with the party’s last MP being Lembit Opik. ​

The Conservatives currently hold both Parliamentary seats with large majorities but the Lib Dem resurgence on the Council could be a precursor to these two constituencies becoming competitive once again.

The council consists of 72 councillors, representing 36 electoral wards.


Since 2012, Labour holds overall political control with 48 councillors. The Conservative Party have 8 councillors and there are 11 councillors which represent the Liberal Democrats, Independent and Uplands.


It is expected that Labour will retain control of this authority, with opinion polls suggesting this is extremely unlikely to change.


This will be the first election to take place with new boundary changes.

Labour will have been disappointed at not making more gains in this “Red Wall” north Wales Council. However, the party can be pleased at having reduced the number of Independent Councillors to fewer than half of the total number.​

The electoral arithmetic, however, makes it likely that Independents will still play a role in the administration that is formed to govern the Council.

Countdown to Local Elections

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