More than 100 Conservatives already winners in May local elections
More than 100 Tories are set to win council seats in local elections in England on May 2 before a single ballot is cast, provisional figures show.
Following the close of nominations last week, about 110 Conservative candidates will be elected unopposed as no other candidates are contesting the seats where they are standing.
Only a handful of Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates will be elected unopposed when voting takes place at 248 councils in the biggest set of polls in the four-year cycle.
More than 25,400 candidates are contesting about 8,400 council seats, according to the latest figures gathered by the Press Association.
Polls will also be held for six directly-elected mayors, including in the new North of Tyne devolved regional authority.
Conservatives are fielding about 8,000 candidates in the council elections, which suggests on Press Association figures that the party is contesting about 95% of the seats available.
This is a higher proportion than in the previous two elections in the cycle in 2011 and 2015 – a point highlighted in analysis by elections commentator Rob Hayward, the Tory former MP Lord Hayward.
Labour has about 6,500 candidates, fighting 77% of the available seats, a much lower proportion than the Tories but still higher than in 2011 and 2015.
The Liberal Democrats are on about 4,400 (52%) in the Press Association’s figures, the Greens about 2,600 (31%) and Ukip about 1,400 (16%).
Conservatives are defending about 5,000 of the seats and have the most to lose after making solid gains in the 2015 polls. Those coincided with the general election in which the Tories, then led by David Cameron, won a 12-seat majority.
Some 8,650 councillors are due to end their terms of office before polling day, but there will be about 450 fewer councillors elected because of an overall reduction in seats at councils where there have been boundary changes and because of new councils with fewer seats resulting from local authority mergers.
The elections will see polls at five new authorities that are replacing 15 existing ones. They are: Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole; Dorset; East Suffolk; West Suffolk; and Somerset West & Taunton.
The May elections will be notable for voter ID trials at 10 local authorities: Braintree, Broxtowe, Craven, Derby, Mid Sussex, North Kesteven, North West Leicestershire, Pendle, Watford, and Woking.
The trials, which will require voters to produce various forms of ID before they can vote, follow similar pilots at five councils last May.
Polls also take place on May 2 at all 11 local authorities in Northern Ireland, where nominations closed on Monday.