Where the key battles for control of Swansea Council will be fought
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
With new electoral wards and nearly a quarter of current councillors standing down in Swansea, the local elections on May 5 have a different dynamic to them than normal.
It would take a huge swing to knock Labour off its perch but elections aren’t always predictable and the swirling interplay of local and national issues may throw up the odd surprise.
Labour’s base is traditionally firmest in the east and centre of the city and county, but there looks to be some intense competition in the newly-redrawn Clydach ward in the east. The new ward has absorbed much of the former Mawr ward to the north and will have three councillors, one more than currently.
Clydach’s six prospective councillors include a serving Independent and Conservative who represented Clydach and Mawr respectively, while Labour’s councillor for the area is standing down. Labour has three candidates, and there is also a second Independent.
There is plenty to play for in Sketty and Uplands, which have five and four elected members respectively.
Two Liberal Democrat, two Conservative and one Labour councillor were elected in Sketty in 2017, and the Labour councillor is standing down. There are 19 candidates vying for the five available positions – five Lib-Dems, five Labour, five Conservative, two Plaid Cymru, one Wales Green Party and one Freedom Alliance.
Uplands’s political make-up after 2017 comprised two Labour councillors, who are both standing down, and two Uplands party representatives, one of whom is calling it a day. Seventeen candidates are in the mix this time – four Labour, four Liberal Democrat, four Uplands, three Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, one Plaid Cymru and one Freedom Alliance.
Further west, Mayals, West Cross and Oystermouth will all have new councillors due to the four incumbents retiring, although a larger Mumbles ward replaces Oystermouth and will have three councillors.
Dunvant and Killay have merged to become one, while Pontlliw and Tircoed is a new ward.
Back towards the city centre and Waterfront ward comes into being for the first time. It covers the marina and SA1, which used to be part of the Castle and St Thomas wards respectively.
Castle, in the city centre, has a diverse mix of businesses and householders and the candidates competing for the four councillor positions represent eight parties and groups.
Hitherto 72 councillors have represented Swansea, but the number is rising to 75 following a review by the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales, which aimed to ensure a more equal voter-councillor ratio. The number of wards will shrink from 36 to 32.
Voters elected 48 Labour councillors in 2017, eight Conservatives, seven Lib-Dems, three Independent@Swansea, four Independent and non-aligned – although one subsequently switched to the Tories – and two Uplands. On that occasion the big gainers were the Conservatives and new Uplands party; the Lib-Dems the biggest losers.
The Labour Party has controlled the council since the 2012 local elections.
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