Voters go to the polls across Newcastle on 4 May in 2023’s local elections.
Labour leader Nick Kemp is bidding to retain the party’s firm grip on power in the city, in what is his first major test since taking over at the city council 12 months ago.
While Labour’s control of the council is not under threat, it promises to be an intriguing election night nonetheless – with no shortage of battles to keep an eye on.
Here is everything you need to know about what’s happening in Newcastle ahead of polling day:
How many councillors are up for election?
There are 27 seats up for grabs on polling day. That is one in each of the city’s 26 wards, plus an extra in North Jesmond following the recent resignation of Stella Postlethwaite.
What is the current makeup of the council?
Labour has been in power in Newcastle since 2011, when it won back control from the Liberal Democrats, and has a sizeable majority of the council’s 78 seats.
As things stand, Labour has 50 seats and the Liberal Democrats are the main opposition with 21. The Newcastle Independents party has three seats, there are two further independents in the Chapel ward, and two vacancies (one formerly held by Labour and one independent).
Who is the leader of the council?
Nick Kemp has been council leader for the last 12 months, after a dramatic power struggle last year. The Byker councillor took over after former leader Nick Forbes was deselected by Labour members in his Arthur’s Hill ward.
This set of local elections will be the first chance for city residents to give their verdict on Cllr Kemp’s administration so far, while he is also seeking re-election himself in Byker.
On top of that, there is a leadership battle with the Newcastle Labour group for the third year running – with Ged Bell set to mount a challenge.
Which seats are being fought over?
North Jesmond is one of the few true swing wards in the city and looks set to be the main source of intrigue this year. The Lib Dems were expecting to be defending Gerry Keating’s seat there, but Stella Postlethwaite’s resignation gives them a chance to make a gain from Labour.
There has been a backlash from many locals to the council’s introduction of the controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in March, which could prove costly for Labour. The South Jesmond ward, however, is traditionally much safer Labour territory – so cabinet member Lesley Storey may not be in as much danger.
Traffic has most certainly been the big source of debate in recent weeks thanks to the hugely contentious LTN, while issues like the city’s new Clean Air Zone and the future of Gosforth High Street are also major topics of discussion.
The other ward which is always tight on election night in Newcastle is Ouseburn, where it is Lib Dem Gareth Kane defending his spot this year.
West Fenham was touted last year as an area where Labour might lose out, but strong challenges from the Greens, Tories, and Lib Dems ultimately saw the opposition vote split.
In the outer west, Lemington promises a fight between Labour and the Newcastle Independents – as does Denton and Westerhope. Rows over a lack of infrastructure and investment have long been a feature of politics in the outer west of the city, which is regularly branded a forgotten area by Labour’s opponents.
Anything else to watch out for on election night?
The Conservatives’ quest to finally get a councillor elected in Newcastle again has now entered a fourth decade. The vocal Doc Anand in Gosforth would appear to be to their best shot of winning a seat for the first time since 1992, though the ward is a stronghold for the Liberal Democrats.
The Newcastle Independents party is defending one of its seats for the first time, in Callerton and Throckley. However, the feeling is it is likely to revert back to Labour given that retiring incumbent Ian Donaldson’s 2018 victory came in a campaign dominated by the furore over plans for a coal mine.
Here is the full list of candidates standing in Newcastle in the 2023 local elections:
Katie Fletcher (Green)
Fahim Habibi (Conservative)
Joanne Kingsland (Labour)
Tahir Siddique (Liberal Democrat)
Benwell and Scotswood
Hans Christian Andersen (Liberal Democrat)
Susan Anthony (Labour)
Lee Irving (Green)
Jamie Kelly (Conservative)
Sarah Armstrong (Newcastle Independents)
Linda Hobson (Labour)
Lucy Howie (Conservative)
Bill Shepherd (Liberal Democrat)
Jessica Whitaker (Green)
Jamie Hampton (Conservative)
Nick Hartley (Green)
Nick Kemp (Labour)
Mark Ridyard (Liberal Democrat)
Callerton and Throckley
John Dobie (Conservative)
John Gordon (Newcastle Independents)
Idwal John (Green)
Richard Morris (Liberal Democrat)
Adam Walker (Labour)
Ali Avaei (Liberal Democrat)
Joshua Clark (Conservative)
Andrew Herridge (Labour)
Andrew Thorp (Green)
Milo Barnett (Labour)
Margaret Donnelly (Independent)
Ian Forster (Conservative)
James Milne (Green)
Judith Steen (Liberal Democrat)
Dene and South Gosforth
Christopher Bartlett (Labour)
Henry Gallagher (Liberal Democrat)
Gerry Langley (Conservative)
Robert Taylor (Green)
Denton and Westerhope
Libby Dicken (Liberal Democrat)
Alexis Fernandes (Conservative)
Adam Mitchell (Newcastle Independents)
Bill Purvis (Labour)
Cécile Renaud-Glorieux (Green)
Hamed Aghajani (Liberal Democrat)
Saamiya Malik (Conservative)
Habib Rahman (Labour)
Peter Thomson (Green)
Fawdon and West Gosforth
Stephen Axford (Conservative)
Peter Lovatt (Liberal Democrat)
Ava Rowell (Labour)
Roger Whittaker (Green)
Nick Arnold (Labour)
Doc Anand (Conservative)
Anna Foster (Green)
Tom Woodwark (Liberal Democrat)
Shah Ali (Conservative)
Tom Appleby (Liberal Democrat)
Andrew Gray (Green)
Steve Handford (Communist Party of Britain)
Mehrban Sadiq (Labour)
Robert Austin (Liberal Democrat)
Nicholas Fray (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition)
Adam Jackson (Green)
Paula Maines (Labour)
Zak Mudie (Conservative)
Kingston Park South and Newbiggin Hall
Tristan Gilet (Green)
Aidan King (Liberal Democrat)
Jacqui Robinson (Labour)
Jamie Setch (Conservative)
Stephen Barry-Stanners (Labour)
Joel Bland (Conservative)
Hilda Frost (Green)
Joanne Nix (Newcastle Independents)
Robert Petrie (Liberal Democrat)
Deborah Burns (Liberal Democrat)
Michael Rabley (Green)
Beth Spurr (Conservative)
Carly Walker-Dawson (Labour)
Teresa Cairns (Labour)
David Partington (Liberal Democrat)
James Vesty (Green)
Aaron Whelan-Harvey (Conservative)
North Jesmond (2 seats available)
Oskar Avery (Labour)
Michael Bell (Labour)
Gemma Brown (Conservative)
Philip Browne (Liberal Democrat)
Stephen Dawes (Conservative)
Tim Dowson (Green)
Gerry Keating (Liberal Democrat)
Shehla Naqvi (Green)
Phill James (Green)
Gareth Kane (Liberal Democrat)
Marie Summersby (Conservative)
Asad Syed (Labour)
Andrew Burnett (Conservative)
Matthew Hill (Labour)
Audrey Macnaughton (Green)
Christine Morrissey (Liberal Democrat)
Elias Al Dahan (Conservative)
Martin Evison (Social Democratic Party)
Alistair Ford (Green)
Fiona Punchard (Liberal Democrat)
Lesley Storey (Labour)
Steve Fish (Freedom Alliance. Stop the Great Reset.)
Stephen Psallidas (Liberal Democrat)
Alex Walker (Conservative)
Tom Whatson (Green)
Margaret Wood (Labour)
Julie Fish (Freedom Alliance. Stop the Great Reset.)
Paul Frew (Labour)
Deborah Gallagher (Liberal Democrat)
Stephen Oxborough (Conservative)
Doug Paterson (Green)
Sylvia Copley (Labour)
Raja Khan (Conservative)
PJ Morrissey (Liberal Democrat)
Tay Pitman (Green)
John Pearson (Green)
Jarred Riley (Conservative)
Rebecca Shatwell (Labour)
Colin Steen (Liberal Democrat)