Local elections 2018: Key battlegrounds to watch as voters go to polls on Thursday | Politics | News

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Voters will head to the polls on May 3 for the first England-wide test of electoral opinion since last year’s snap general election.

There will be no polls in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, however, politics fans will see plenty of action in England – with seats on about 150 councils and more than 4,000 seats up for grabs.

They include all the seats in all 32 London boroughs, as well as every seat in the metropolitan districts of Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

A third of seats will be up for grabs in 30 other metropolitan districts, including Liverpool, Sheffield, Sunderland and Wigan.

A further 67 district council elections will take place this week – with seven having all seats contested, six with half up for grabs and the last 54 will elect all councillors.

And 17 unitary authorities will also go to the polls, with Blackburn, Darwen and the Hull City Council have all their seats up, while the remaining 14 are electing a third of all seats.

Where are the key battlegrounds to look out for?

London, as usual, is shaping up to be one of the hottest battlegrounds with every borough council seat up for grabs this Thursday.

In particular, Barnet council could be one of the most vulnerable after the Conservatives lost their slim majority following the resignation of a councillor earlier this month.

And Kensington and Chelsea, where the Tories have a 24-seat majority, could also be readying itself for a fight as voters are expected to vote with anger in response to the handling of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Labour are expected to hold on to most councils the party already controls and is seeking to extend majorities in seats such as Harrow, where there is a tiny majority of just one seat.

Outside London, Labour is set to defend 75 local authorities, including Manchester City Council, where it holds 93 out of the 94 seats.

Councils to watch out for include Amber Valley in Derbyshire, Trafford, Swindon and Tamworth all narrowly held by the Conservatives at the moment.

Labour is also targeting councils currently under no overall control where it is the largest party, such as Stockport, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Dudley, Walsall and North-East Lincolnshire.

There are mayoral elections in Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Watford and the Sheffield City region.

Labour is on course for its best performance in 40 years in London, according to fresh polls that show Jeremy Corbyn’s party enjoying a 22 per cent lead over the Conservatives.

In 2014, the last time most of these seats were contested, Labour did well – gaining control of six councils and adding more than 300 councillors to their ranks.

In contrast, the Conservatives lost 236 seats and relinquished control of 11 councils. This means that Labour has more councils and seats to defend this time around.

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