In our latest Midlands Matters podcast episode, the Midlands team delved into the exciting local elections results and explored the trends and issues relevant to local voters. There has been a great deal of interest in the results, and we turned to our in-house experts for their views.
Martha Jennings and Jonny Hodges were joined by Rebecca Langton, former Cabinet Member for Skills, Growth, and Economic Development at Nottingham City Council, and Tristan Chatfield, former Cabinet Member for Finance at Birmingham City Council. Between them, they have many years’ experience at the top of local politics and gave some unique insights into the changing political landscape of the East and West Midlands.
1. Labour success across the Midlands
The 4th of May was something of a watershed moment for the Labour party both nationally and in the Midlands. As Labour became England’s largest party in local government, sections of the “red wall” were recovered including marginal councils in Staffordshire turning red. Labour took control of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, a national target for the party, whilst they saw success in taking control of East Staffordshire Council and becoming the largest party in Staffordshire Moorlands. In the East Midlands, the Conservatives lost 164 seats and maintained control of just four councils whilst Labour took control of seven. Outside of the city of Nottingham, Labour currently has no MPs in Nottinghamshire county, hence to see the party gaining control of councils like Broxtowe, or increasing their majority in Bolsover, is a hugely significant boost to Kier Starmer’s team.
2. Conservative holds in the south of the West Midlands
Results in the Midlands were not all doom and gloom for the Tories, as the party had a strong performance in the West Midlands conurbation. The Conservative vote held up in parts of the Black Country, where Dudley Council and Walsall Council bucked national trends as they remained under Tory control. In leafy Solihull, the Conservatives gained three seats and were able to fight off pre-election forecasts of Green party advances. Not only do these results provide slight respite for those in Conservative Campaign Headquarters but they bode well for Andy Street who has confirmed he is standing for re-election as West Midlands Mayor in 2024.
3. A platform to showcase Labour’s commitment to housing
In recent days, Kier Starmer has laid out his housing policy arguing that Labour would give English councils more power to build on green belt land. With Labour taking control of councils across the Midlands, they have been presented with an opportunity to showcase these plans and enact change around Local Plans. Over the next few months, as part of Labour Council leaders’ pledge to deliver cost-of-living action plans, we could see a return of ambitious housing targets and social housing pledges.
If you would like to hear more about these topics and more, please watch the podcast below.