Campaigners will be out trying to secure every last vote as local elections are less than a week away.
On Thursday, 4 May, people will head to the polls to cast their vote for politicians across Teesside. Labour will be keen to take back council seats lost in 2019 to put them in a strong position ahead of the general election next year.
However, getting in their way will be a raft of Conservatives, Independents, Green Party candidates, Reform UK members and Liberal Democrats. For the first time, voters will also need to take a photo ID when they go to cast their ballot.
Here’s a guide so you’re all ready for next week:
Which elections are being held here?
Local elections are being held in Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Stockton. Each council will be re-electing all of its councillors. In Middlesbrough, there will also be a mayoral election.
When are the counts being held and when will we know the results?
Middlesbrough count the ballots for the mayoral race overnight, after the polls close at 10pm. A result is expected by 1am.
Counts for Redcar, Stockton and Middlesbrough council seats will start on Friday morning and the results should come in throughout the day.
Who is standing in my ward?
Do I need an ID card to vote?
Yes. For the first time, voters in England are now required to show an accepted form of photographic identification when they go to cast their ballot – such as a passport or driving licence. More information on that is available here.
Where is my polling station?
Your polling station location is printed on your polling card, which you should receive through the post. You can also find out by clicking here.
When do polls open?
On Thursday, 4 May, polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.
What are the stories to watch out for?
Redcar and Cleveland
In Redcar and Cleveland many eyes will be on Loftus ward to see if council leader and independent Mary Lanigan can retain her seat. Cllr Lanigan, who has led the ruling independent/Liberal Democrat coalition since 2019, was censured in a vote by council members after several serious breaches of the local authority’s code of conduct.
The Conservatives, who have two candidates in Loftus, may have the best chance of ousting the veteran councillor, but much will depend on voters’ view on how badly she has been damaged by her actions as well as her administration’s record over the past four years.
Other wards of interest will include Longbeck, where Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner is standing with his wife Andrea for the Tories. Meanwhile, candidates in Kirkleatham ward include Labour group leader Alec Brown, who previously stood and was elected in Dormanstown last time around, and anti-knife crime campaigner Theresa Cave.
The Guisborough and Teesville wards will also be fiercely contested with 13 and 12 candidates standing in them respectively.
The big race in Middlesbrough will be between the four mayoral candidates. Labour’s Chris Cooke, Conservative John Cooper, Independent Andy Preston and Independent Jon Rathmell are all fighting for the position. Labour will be looking to take the council’s top political job from Mr Preston.
Labour will also be trying to gain a majority on the council, which it lost in 2019 for the first time. Key seats to look out for are Park ward, Hemlington and Newport – all of which were close at the last local elections. The party has had some success in the last two by-elections in North Ormesby and Berwick Hills and Pallister but the question is whether voters return in the numbers they need to build on that momentum.
It will also be interesting to see whether any of the Green Party candidates or Liberal Democrats can pick up a seat. Neither party have any current councillors but in Acklam ward in 2019, Liberal Democrat Tom Livingstone, who is running again, lost out by just one vote.
A key seat to watch out for is Norton North, which has been newly formed after boundary changes. All of the candidates running for the seat in this election, previously ran for former ward Norton West.
The Labour Party represented Norton West between 1995 and 2019. Prior to 1995, it was a strong Conservative seat and it returned to the Tories four years ago. However, Labour will be hoping to stop the Conservatives as the party has its eye on taking Norton North.
There’s also uncertainty around other boundary changes for Stockton Council wards. It will be worth checking up on seats in Ingleby Barwick, Yarm and Kirklevington to see how the new boundaries could affect the vote.
Reform UK, which has been rebranded from the Brexit Party, is also running nine candidates and it will be interesting to see whether it can gain any traction. The party’s leader Richard Tice stood in the Hartlepool election in 2019 for the Brexit Party where he finished in third place.