Local council elections: What you need to know

Bins, swimming, pencils, houses - ITV Wales photo
Local authorities are responsible for delivering services that we rely on every day. Credit: ITV Wales

Election time is here again, this time it is the local council elections. 

On Thursday 5th May we will be asked to choose people to represent us in all 22 local authorities here in Wales for the first time since 2017.

Local authorities are responsible for delivering important services that we all rely on every day such as education, housing, social services, waste management, leisure services, planning and environmental health.

During the pandemic, councils have been at the heart of emergency measures including running track and trace programmes and testing. 

This will be the first election to be held under new electoral rules and with new boundaries. You may notice that you have to cast your ballot in a different ward. 

Also, more people and younger people will be able to vote. 

Previously only British, Irish, Commonwealth and European citizens over 18 could vote. Now all legal residents of Wales aged 16 or over are eligible to vote.

These elections will give voters chance to deliver their verdict on those who are in charge of local services but will also to make a judgement on politicians at a UK and Wales level.

The handling of the pandemic, war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis and even Brexit could all be factors in deciding who wins support. 

So what will the political parties be hoping for?


Will the Conservatives keep hold of support in areas that enabled them to win the 2019 UK Election and win their highest-ever total of Senedd seats in 2021?  Will the Brexit effect have worn off? 

Polling suggests that non-local government issues could be hitting their support. A few weeks ago, “Partygate” looked like harming their chances considerably but Ukraine has changed the political landscape. 

However the negative reaction to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement measures could also have an effect. 

The party did well in 2017 but that means they have more battles. Conservatives have majority control of Monmouthshire. 


Will voters reward or punish Labour for its more cautious handling of the Covid pandemic here in Wales?

The party has the most councillors and controls seven councils: Caerphilly, Cardiff, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, Torfaen. 

2017 was a difficult year for Labour which lost control of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil but polling and last year’s Senedd election suggests it could do well in 2022.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has struggled in Senedd and Westminster elections but at its recent conference, leader Adam Price claimed that it was still managing to deliver many of its promises by doing deals: with Labour in the Senedd and with other parties at local council level. 

At the same conference it was advised by a senior SNP politician to aim for success in local elections as a precursor to wider success. 

The party currently has a majority of councillors in one authority, Gwynedd, and leads coalitions in another three.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats will be looking or any sign of a resurgence for this party which once thrived in local government but has been suffering decline over the last ten years and only has one Senedd Member. 

Independents Day?

Some of the biggest winners in these local elections do not belong to any party. 

Unlike in Cardiff Bay and Westminster, Independents play an important role in local government. They made up the second largest group of successful candidates in 2017 and now run some councils.

If you have not registered yet for a vote you have until just before midnight (11:59pm) on Thursday 14th April to be included in the electoral register. 

If you think you might not be able to cast your votes in person, the deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday 19 April. You must already be on the electoral register. 

If you have applied for a postal vote but left it too late to post your ballot paper you can take it to your polling station by 10pm on election day. 

You can also ask for someone else to vote on your behalf with what is known as a proxy vote. The deadline for applying for a proxy vote is 5pm on 26th April.