Local Elections polls close across the Midlands in 'first test of public opinion since partygate'

The polls have now closed Credit: PA

So the polls have closed, the votes have been cast - all that remains now is the counting!In the Midlands, 19 councils have been holding elections - the majority are currently in Conservative hands.The results will be watched closely as it's the first test of public opinion since the partygate scandal at Westminster along with the increase in petrol prices and the rise in the cost of living. 

Politicians are hoping that opinion has been swayed by local issues - who is best to run our schools, our social services and our waste removal? 

In an effort to distance themselves from the controversies surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson Conservatives in Nuneaton and Bedworth have been describing themselves as "local Conservatives" - will that be enough to head off any revolt? 

Re-building the red wall is the challenge for Labour - not only in Nuneaton and Bedworth where they lost 11 seats in 2021 to the Conservatives, but also in Newcastle Under Lyme where the Conservatives seized power for the first time in decades last year. 

It's a similar story in Cannock Chase which turned blue for the first time ever in 2021 with the Conservatives taking eight seats from Labour. 

In Derby once again it's a blue council that has been red many times before - what will the overnight count reveal? 

It would be a major upset if Rugby, Tamworth and Worcester changed hands from Conservative to Labour - but could partygate have an unwanted impact? 

Labour has always been able to stay safely in control of the metropolitan boroughs of Birmingham , Coventry, Sandwell and Wolverhampton.

Sandwell will be of particular interest because the Conservatives won seats here in 2021 for the first time ever. Can they hold on?

The Liberal Democrats reign supreme in Cheltenham - the party will be looking to increase their councillor numbers in Derby and in Birmingham. 

The Green party continues to scoop up local support. They are the official opposition on Solihull council and are fighting in practically every ward in Nuneaton and Bedworth.

For Labour to have a chance of winning in a General Election they will need to make major gains in these contests. 

Sir Keir Starmer will be looking at Walsall and Dudley as true tests of whether his party can once again become the dominant force. 

As ever turnout is likely to be low - sadly less than a third of those eligible actually do so.