Preston City Council elections: the races to watch out for

Verification of the votes in this year’s Preston City Council elections is well under way at the city’s Guild Hall, with counting set to begin later this afternoon.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 12:24 pm

Socially distanced and screened-off vote-counters are at work, with the pandemic ensuring this emblematic display of democracy looks rather different to the tightly-packed gatherings of normal times.

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LIVE: Preston City Council elections 2021 - results as they happen

The poll was postponed from last year during the first Covid wave, meaning it is two years since Prestonians had their say on who runs their local authority.

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Candidates are at the Guild Hall, assessing their chances (image: Neil Cross)

After an all-out election for the whole council in 2019 because of boundary changes, the town hall returns to electing a third of its seats on rotation, with 16 up for grabs this year - one in each three-member ward.

The authority has been Labour-controlled for a decade and the party currently holds a comfortable majority, securing 30 of the total 48 seats two years ago, with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups winning nine each.

Going into the election, all three seats in every ward are held by the same party - although one seat, in Preston Rural East, is currently vacant.

Eleven of the 16 seats are being contested by the incumbent who was elected in 2019, while the current holder has stepped down in four of the seats - Ashton, Greyfriars, Ribbleton and St. Matthew's.

There is a different feel to the vote-counting process this year

Because it was a whole-council election only two years ago, none of the members have yet served what would normally be a four-year term. So the single seat up for election this time round in each ward is determined by which of the three sitting councillors achieved the lowest number of votes last time round.

The tightest races back in 2019 were in the Sharoe Green, Ingol and Cottam and Garrison wards, held by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour respectively.

Three current cabinet members are up for re-election - resources and performance member Martyn Rawlinson in the Fishwick and Frenchwood ward, communities and social justice member Nweeda Khan in Plungington and the member for culture and leisure services, Peter Kelly, in Garrison.