Local elections 2021: where to watch in the Midlands council elections, a blog by Alison Mackenzie

At last an opportunity to bid farewell to Westminster politics for a while and to head back to the Midlands!

I first covered local elections as a radio reporter in the mid 1980s. The key council to watch back then in the West Midlands was Dudley - it was always on a knife edge as to who would snatch control - Labour or Conservative. And guess what? It's the same picture in 2021. It's the biggest of the six metropolitan boroughs where a third of council seats are all up for grabs. 

Of course this is an exceptional year for all local electorates.

Two years worth of contests squeezed into one because of the pandemic. And although it's local issues which should be paramount, it is more likely to be taken as a chance for voters to give their verdict on the premiership of Boris Johnson and on how they think Sir Keir Starmer is working out as Labour leader. 

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer Credit: PA

One of the biggest results to look out for will be for who wins as West Midlands Metro Mayor. A big job with a big budget. 

An added factor at local level is the influence of Independent councillors.  They are key players in the makeup of Nottinghamshire County council for example, where I shall also be filming later this month.  Many represent areas in the northern parts of the county in Ashfield and Mansfield - the location of the famous 'red wall' which was demolished by the Conservatives in the General Election in 2019. Will the bricks begin to be reassembled on May 6th? 

Before that polling date - postal voting is likely to be happening in far greater numbers this year.

Although polling stations will be covid secure many voters may feel that little bit safer making their choices and sending in their ballot papers from home.

Nine district councils are holding elections. Some contests held over from 2020. Most elect only a third of their councillors but it could signal a change in control at Amber Valley in Derbyshire. Currently held by Labour - it's another of those authorities that constantly switch between red and blue.  One key issue there is the new choice for bin collections.

The Conservatives claim the new contractors are too expensive - the controlling Labour group say it was the best choice on offer when it came to signing the deal. 

But of course it won't all be about bins and potholes on polling day - voters will also be electing Police and Crime Commissioners. These roles were set up in the days of David Cameron - the man who once told me in an interview he doesn't mind who people vote for - so long as they simply turn up and cast their vote!