Only Conservatives and Labour to fight all wards as election runners are announced

The team from Corker Outdoor, Award sponsor Jason Varney (Thomson, Snell & Passmore) & Eamonn Holmes

Just Labour and the Conservative party have a full slate of candidates in all available wards, despite the Town Hall being balanced on a knife edge.

The election on May 5 could see control of the authority fall from the Conservatives for the first time in 20 years if they fail to return enough councillors.

During the last local elections in May 2021, TWBC fell to No Overall Control and the Tories have been running the authority as a minority party ever since.

The Conservatives were further weakened by a by-election defeat and a couple of resignations that has seen their numbers in the 48-seat chamber fall to just 21.

While they remain the largest party, opposition groups can currently muster 26 seats between them – 12 Lib Dems, 6 Alliance, 5 Labour and 3 independents. There is also one vacant seat.

This is the penultimate local elections before the current boundary system changes in May 2024 that will see a reduction of councillors from 48 to 39.

To retain power, the Conservatives have to avoid losing more than five of the seats they currently hold, but they would need to win all ten they are defending plus a further four if they are to regain the majority they lost in 2021.

With the deadline for nominees now passed, there are 60 candidates jostling for one of the 16 seats from 16 areas up for election.

The Conservatives and Labour have a candidate in all 16 wards, but the authority’s second largest party, the Liberal Democrats, is fielding just nine prospective councillors, the lowest amount for years.

During the 2021 election, the party found 19 candidates in the 19 seats that were being balloted that year.

The Lib Dems say the decision was a ‘strategic’ one.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We’re exceptionally proud of our candidates who come from a really wide range of backgrounds.

“The decision not to stand in every ward was made long ago, and in accordance with our strategic aim of being the largest party on the Council after the election. Only then can we effect the real change that the Borough so desperately needs.”

To achieve their goal the Lib Dems would need to win all the seats they are contesting and hope the Tories make no gains.

The 2022 election comes following a number of resignations within the Lib Dems, including the local Lib Dems former chairman, Cllr James Rands, who left after a public spat with leader Ben Chapelard.

The Alliance party is also fielding just nine candidates, including Cllr Nicholas Pope, who was the party’s first elected councillor when he won Park ward in 2018 following the opposition to the Council’s now doomed Calverley Square Theatre project.

The Green party is fielding seven candidates, while there are also three people standing for minor parties, including Ukip and the GB Socialist Party.

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