Insight

What Wales' three largest parties are promising ahead of the local elections

All three of Wales' major parties have now launched their election campaigns

All three of Wales' main political parties have launched their campaigns for the local elections.

Labour, the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have all set out the promises and aims that their candidates will hope to deliver if they become councillors. 

The elections take place across Wales on Thursday, May 5, when we will all be asked to choose people to represent us in all 22 local authorities here in Wales.

So, what are each of Wales' largest parties saying?



Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru were the last of the three parties to launch their campaign

Plaid Cymru Is the latest of the three to launch, with a focus on three main pledges it said Plaid councillors could deliver.

Its main promise is to offer free school meals to all pupils, not just primary schools as the party is on course to offer as part of its Welsh Government agreement with Labour. 

Plaid also says that its councillors will work to safeguard jobs by supporting local businesses and will tackle the housing crisis by building more energy efficient social homes and clamping down on second home ownership.

The party has struggled in Senedd and Westminster elections but is using its record in local government, where it leads four authorities, to show how it manages to deliver many of its promises by doing deals, whether it be at local council level or in the Senedd with Labour. 

Launching the campaign, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said. "Plaid Cymru has already secured free school meals to all primary school children by the end of this Senedd term.

"Now, we want to go further.  That’s why, our headline offer in this campaign is that Plaid Cymru led councils will aim to extend universal Free School Meals to secondary pupils within the next council term.”

"And we won’t stop there. We’ll tackle Wales’s housing crisis by building more energy-efficient, genuinely affordable housing, and take radical action on second homes and ending homelessness.

"And we’ll strengthen local supply chains and support local businesses - safeguarding local jobs and incomes in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis that many simply can’t absorb."


Conservatives

The Welsh Conservatives launched their campaign in Llandudno Credit: Welsh Conservatives

Earlier in the week the Welsh Conservatives focussed on a promise to stop wasting tax payers money and to listen to the needs of local communities.

Speaking at the party’s launch its leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies told us: “We’ve got to break this Labour-Plaid monopoly that controls Wales and this is a real opportunity at local government elections to make that difference.

"We’ve got a record number of Conservative candidates standing, 669 candidates standing and its everyone’s opportunity to vote Conservative to tackle the cost of living, to make sure that your community has all the solutions it needs to get over the current problems we face and that’s what Conservatives are proposing at these local elections.”

It also has a fight on its hands. 2017 brought a good set of results for Conservatives but that means they now have more battles to fight and they do so against a challenging political landscape away from local election issues. 

“Parygate” had looked like harming the party’s chances and its opponents will certainly use it during this campaign. Criticism of the UK Government’s handling of the cost of living crisis may also knock support. 

But the last few years have seen successful elections, at a UK level in 2019 and the best-ever Senedd results in 2021. Senior Tories will be hoping that that momentum will continue. 


Welsh Labour

The Welsh Labour campaign was launched by both Mark Drakeford and Sir Keir Starmer Credit: PA

In many ways the opposite is the case for Labour which had a very difficult time in 2017, losing control of several important councils but is more hopeful this time. 

Last year’s Senedd election results and opinion polling suggests it will be a different story in 2022. 

The importance of this election not just to Labour in Wales but also to the UK party was clearly shown at the start of this week when its campaign was launched jointly by Welsh leader Mark Drakeford and UK leader Keir Starmer. 

They both put the cost of living crisis right at the centre of the campaign, insisting that it was a Conservative-created crisis that “has not come out of thin air.”

Mark Drakeford told me that “The cost of living crisis is a crisis made in Downing Street.

"For 10 years or more families in Wales have seen their wages held down, their benefits frozen because of a flawed decade of austerity. This means that when the cost of living crisis hits those families simply don’t have the resources to fall back on that they would have if different policies had been pursued.”

But he insisted that there is also a positive message from his party: “If you vote for a Labour councillor then you’re more likely to get a Labour council and if you’ve got a Labour council working in partnership with a Labour government in Wales, then that brings you a real bonus in the sense of those things that local authorities do every single day that matter in the lives of people in every part of Wales.”


Welsh local elections: need to know

The local elections take place across Wales's 22 local authorities on Thursday, May 5 Credit: PA

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.

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.