The top 23 most interesting wards to watch in Wales at the 2022 local elections
Wales goes to the polls in a few days’ time with over 750 electoral wards up for grabs this Thursday, May 5, many contested for the first time after boundary changes.
Over the last few weeks, Dafydd Trystan has been taking his social media followers through the 21 most interesting contests that will tell us the most about how the different parties have fared when the results are revealed on Friday.
As he reaches the end of his series, here are his top 21 wards to watch in Wales at the 2022 local elections, all in one place.
Morgan Jones, Caerphilly
Councillors: 3 – Electorate (2019): 5,608
Candidates: Anne Broughton-Pettit (Lab); Alexis Celnik (Gr); John Child (Con); Judith Child (Con); Shayne Cook* (Lab); Martin John Downes (PC); Mike Prew (PC); Jamie Pritchard* (Lab); Mark Andrew Robotham (PC). * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: Morgan Jones ward is located in the centre of Caerffili. Named after a former MP for the seat Morgan Jones is also includes Caerffili castle —though there are no electors registered there. Traditionally it is a marginal seat where Plaid and Labour have fought close battles, and with 3 seats to be elected it can have a significant impact on the balance of the council. Currently 1 Plaid, 2 Labour, the very long-standing Plaid cllr Phil Bevan is standing down after almost 50 years as a Councillor. Labour, whose team includes James Pritchard the Deputy Leader, will be hoping to take all three seats here this time round. If Plaid have any realistic ambitions to take control of the council, Morgan Jones is one of the wards they need to win.
Councillor: 1 – Electorate (2017): 1,359
Candidates: William (Bill) Powell* (LD), Peter Weavers (Con). * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: The ward of Talgarth is a rural ward in Powys centred on the village of Talgarth. In 2017 the former Lib Dem Assembly Member, Bill Powell secured over 80% of the vote. However, rather than a challenge from Labour, this time round he faces an altogether more challenging opponent in Peter Weavers, a former chair of the Conservatives in Brecon & Radnor. Powell is almost certainly favoured as the incumbent, but on a good night for the Conservatives they might well hope to gain this ward and thus take out a significant figure for the Lib Dems in Powys.
Councillor: 1 – Electorate (2017): 1,255
Candidates: Anna Jane Evans (PC), Coj Parry (Lab)
Profile: Hendre is a new ward which encompasses the south west part of the town of Caernarfon. The ward is made up of some two-thirds of the old Seiont division that elected two councillors to Gwynedd Council, and is not to be confused with the Hendre ward that used to exist in Bangor (until 2022). Given that fewer than two dozen votes separated Plaid and Labour in the larger Seiont ward at the last election, this straight fight between Labour and Plaid promises to be a close-run affair — and could be one of Labour’s few realistic opportunities to retain a presence on Gwynedd Council.
Aberystwyth Morfa & Glais, Ceredigion
Councillors: 2 – Electorate (2019): 3,189
Candidates: James Ralph Cook (Lab), Iwan Edwards (LD), Sam Hall (Con), Ewan Lawry (Con), Dylan Lewis-Rowlands (Lab), CJ Peasley (Green), Mark Strong* (PC), Joe Thomas (LD), Alun Williams* (PC). * Sitting Councillors
Profile: Aberystwyth Mona & Glais ward is a new electoral division created following the Boundary Review. It includes most of the centre of the town of Aberystwyth along with most of the University and its halls of residence. It brings together three wards — Bronglais, Canol and Gogledd — none of which were particularly competitive in 2017. However, bringing all three together in a two-member ward provides opportunities and five parties have nominated candidates for 2022. Both Alun Williams (Bronglais) and Mark Strong (Gogledd) are standing again for Plaid but expect a strong challenge from the Liberal Democrats.
Whitchurch & Tongwynlais, Cardiff
Councillors: 4 – Electorate (2019): 12,830
Candidates: Kate Carr (Lab), Dominic Eggbeer (LD), Marc Flagg (PC/G), Robert Godfrey (LD), Geraldine Grant (LD), Jamie Green (Lab), Gruffudd Jones (PC/G), Jackie Jones (Lab), Mike Jones-Pritchard* (Con), Tessa Marshall (PC/G), Linda Morgan* (Con), Sharon Owen (Con), Marc Palmer (Lab), Mike Phillips* (Con), Kate Prosser (PC/G), Pippa Shimmin (LD)
* Sitting Councillor
Profile: Whitchurch and Tongwynlais is one of Wales’ biggest electoral wards located in the north Cardiff suburbs. It is a very marginal ward, and while the Conservatives managed to hold a seat at a by-election with the impressive Mia Rees as a candidate; there is no doubt that Whitchurch will be high up on the list of Labour targets. For the Conservatives, the big question is whether electors will take this opportunity to pass judgement on Boris Johnson’s lamentable performance as PM, rather than the local work of the Conservative councillors.
While the Conservatives face UK-wide headwinds here, for Labour their problems are more hyper-local. Whitchurch is the site of the Northern Meadows and the controversial plans for a new build cancer centre and housing. If the Plaid/Green alliance is to make significant inroads anywhere – the ward where green space is being fenced off and trees felled as leaflets are being delivered – should be fertile ground. There is little doubt given the mixture of UK-wide and local factors that wil influence the result here – that Whitchurch and Tongwynlais is definitively a ward to watch.
Councillors: 2 – Electorate (2017): 4,315
Profile: The ward of Croesyceiliog lies to the North East of Cwmbran, and while it is a part of the County of Torfaen it forms part of the parliamentary constituency of Monmouth. Previously divided between North and South wards, following the boundary review Croesyceiliog will return two members to Torfaen council this year. Labour currently has a comfortable majority on Torfaen council, but if there is to be any threat to that majority, Croesyceiliog would doubtless be on a list of targets for the Conservatives.
Abertyleri & Six Bells, Blaenau Gwent
Councillors: 3 – Electorate (2017): 4,924
Candidates: Amy Bubela (Con), Richard Clark* (Lab), Joanne Gauden* (Lab), Roger Morgan (Con). * Sitting Councillor
Profile: The Council of Blaenau Gwent swung heavily to the independents in 2017, and Labour will therefore undoubtedly be targetting a number of independent held wards. The challenge they face is underlined by the new ward of Abertyleri & Six Bells – which bring together the old Abertyleri division (3 members) and Six Bells (2 members) into a new three member ward. Given a new ward and Labour’s ambitions to retake control of the Council, it is perplexing that they have only nominated two candidates for this ward.
Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Councillors: 2 – Electorate (2019): 5,278
Candidates: Mia Hollsing (TUSC), Pauline Jarman* (PC), Andrew Morgan* (Lab), Kurt Thomson (Con), Wendy Treeby* (Lab) * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: Mountain Ash is a new ward created from the former Mountain Ash East and West divisions. While the eastern part of the ward is larger geographically, the majority of the population live on the west bank of the Cynon. The new ward will have two councillors and pit the well regarded and experienced leader of the council Andrew Morgan (Lab) against the well regarded and experienced former leader of the council Pauline Jarman.
Jarman currently represents Mountain Ash East, while Morgan and his colleague Wendy Treeby represent Mountain Ash West. With only two seats up for grabs, this promises to be a titanic battle. I wonder if, in a tight battle, Plaid might regret not nominating two candidates?
St Augustine’s, Vale of Glamorgan
Councillors: 3 – Electorate (2019): 5,104
Candidates: Thomas Blenkinsop (Green), Rhodri Davies (PC), Christine Glossop (Green), Matthew Hutchinson (PC), Elliot Penn (Lab), Sian Rees (PC), Ruba Sivagnanaml (Lab), Anthony Slaughter (Green) Jonathan Smith (Con), Rod Thomas (Con), Neil Thomas* (Lab) Jeff Tree (Con). * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: The ward of St Augustine’s covers the town centre of Penarth and the marina. In a hotly contested battle for control of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the Conservatives would need to capture St Augustin’s if they are to realistically hope to take (back) overall control of the council, given the intervention of the Vale Independents in other wards. It was in Penarth that the Conservatives chose to launch their Welsh election manifesto.
Following a Boundary Commission review the ward gains a third councillor, so Elliott Penn will be hoping to join his Labour colleagues Ruba Sivagnanm and Neil Thomas in representing the ward. Of the others, Anthony Slaughter, leader of the Welsh Greens who was best placed at the last election will once again be leading the Green ‘ticket.’
Talybolion, Ynys Môn
Councillors: 3 – Electorate (2019): 3,834
Candidates: Rhian Boylan (Con), Paul Cross (Green), Tania Cullen (Con), Rob Gordon (Heritage) Kenneth Pritchard Hughes* (Ind), Jackie Lewis (PC), Llinos Medi* (PC), Llio Angharad Owen (PC), Rhys Parry (Ind), Catrin Ann Thomas (Ind), Stayce Elizabeth Weeder (Con). * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: The ward of Talybolion lies in the north west of Ynys Mon just outside Caergybi. Following a boundary review, it has lost some 800 electors but has retained its three councillors. At the last election, the four candidates nominated fought it our for the available three seats. This time round the electors are offered a far wider choice including the incumbent independent who topped the poll in 2017, Kenneth Pritchard Hughes and the Plaid’s leader of the Council, Llinos Medi. Given the range of candidates and the lack of historical electoral data it would be a brave person who would venture a prediction on the outcome of this election.
Connah’s Quay Central, Flintshire
Councillors: 2 – Electorate (2019): 3,716
Candidates: Bernie Attridge* (Ind), Ryan O’Gorman (Lab), Debbie Owen (Ind), Tracey Sutton Postlethwaite (Lab). * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: Connah’s Quay Central has been slightly enlarged at its southern end following a Boundary Review. It covers the centre of Connah’s Quay and a large rifle range. In most elections, this ward would be expected to elect Labour members — but 2022 will be far more intriguing. In 2017 Aaron Shotton and Bernie Attridge were elected for Labour here— and they subsequently served as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council. However, in 2019 Attridge was sacked by Shotton and subsequently left the Labour party.
This time round he is nominated as an independent and has persuaded a number of disgruntled former Labour members to stand with him as Independents. Shotton is not standing again, so will it be the Labour candidates, or the ex-Labour candidates, who get their shots on target at this election?
Councillors: 4 – Electorate (2018): 10,157
Candidates: Adonis El Salloukh (PC), Benjamin Falkner (LD), Rebecca Francis-Davies (Lab), Trudi Hancock (LD), Chole Hutchinson (LD), Jeffrey Allan (Up), Sandra Joy (Up), Peter May* (Up), Oisin Mulholland (TUSC), Libby Nolan (Lab), Michael O’Carroll (LD), Robyn Parker (Lab), Ceri Powe (Lab), Stuart Rice (Up), Michelle Valerio (Freedom), Evan Vaughan (TUSC), Charlie Wells (TUSC). * Sitting Councillors
Profile: The ward of Uplands is to the west of Swansea centre as you head towards the University and the Gower. It has four councillors and a party that shares the same name as the ward, the Uplands Party, founded and led by Peter May. May is a former Liberal Democrat who previously represented the seat on behalf of the party on Swansea Council. At the last election, May topped the poll, but the four seats were shared between Labour and the aforementioned Uplands Party. So will May again see May reach the sunlit uplands or might he have to head to the beach with a Joe’s Ice cream in hand to raise his spirits if Labour wrests all four seats away from him and his colleagues.
Councillors: 4 – Electorate (2019): 8,966
Candidates: Shah Alom (Lab), Rupa Hayat (Lab), Mark Howells (Ind), Roger Jeavons* (Lab), Alan Morris* (Ind), James Peterson (Ind), John Richards* (Lab), Andrew Sterry (Ind), Luke Thompson (Con). * denotes sitting councillors
Profile: Lliswerry lies on the eastern bank of the river Usk, and has been marginally reduced in size following a boundary review — but retains for councillors. At the last election, one independent along with three Labour councillors were elected. This time around the sitting independent has three fellow independents who are campaigning as Lliswerry independents to try and take all four seats from Labour. Labour have a majority on the Council at the moment, so a loss here could be significant. This would be especially true if the Conservatives or Lib Dems, who seem to have offered only a token presence on the ballot paper here (maybe to give the Independents a free run), perform well elsewhere.
Councillor: 1 – Electorate (2020): 1,745
Candidates: Maggie Harris (Lab), Penny Jones* (Con), Nick Ramsay (LD). * sitting councillor.
Profile: Raglan is a one-member ward in Monmouthshire focused on the town of Raglan along with surrounding villages and hamlets. It also includes Raglan Castle — which was taken by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War in 1646. More recently, Raglan was a closely fought battle between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in 2017. Added into the already bubbling mixture of a marginal seat, is the nomination of Nick Ramsay — the former Conservative Member of the Senedd for Monmouth — on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. Will Penny Jones hold on to Raglan Castle or will Nick Ramsay return, as king of the castle?
Resolven & Tonna, Neath Port Talbot
Councillors: 2 – Electorate (2018) 4,264
Candidates: Andrew Clarke (PC), Neal Francis (Lab), Leanne Jones* (Lab), Dean Lewis* (Ind), Paul Sambrook (PC), Matty Young (Ind). * sitting councillor.
Profile: Resolven & Tonna is a new ward created following the Boundary Review that includes the villages of Tonna, Resolven and Clyne. Located in the Neath valley it brings together the ward of Tonna which was won by less than two dozen votes in 2017 and the competitive ward of Resolven. Resolven was the scene of a by-election in 2019 which was won handsomely by Dean Lewis (Ind) who secured 60% of the vote. Labour’s Deputy Leader Leanne Jones leads the Labour ticket here, and both the Independents and Plaid will hope to avoid a clean sweep for Labour here.
Councillor: 1 Electorate (2017): 1,489
Candidates: Trystan Lewis (Ind), Loren Lloyd-Pepperell (Con), Sue Lloyd-Williams* (PC). Cllr for Llansannan.
Profile: Llansannan is a large sparsely populated ward in the south east of the county of Conwy. It hasn’t seen more than one candidate nominated since 2008, but on this occasion voters will have three prospective councillors to choose from. To add to the excitement they include the sitting Councillor and leader of the Plaid group on Conwy Council — Sue Lloyd Williams, and Trystan Lewis, ‘Plaid’s former candidate for Aberconwy and councillor for the Pensarn ward. In a rural ward with a significant percentage of Welsh speakers this election between (until recently) two of Plaid’s heavyweight’s in Conwy promises to make up for the years of uncontested elections.
Crymych & Mynachlog-Ddu, Pembrokeshire
Councillor: 1 – Electorate (2017): 1,888
Candidates: Shon Midway Rees (Ind), Cris Tomos* (PC). *Current Councillor
Profile: Crymych & Mynachlog-Ddu is a new ward created following the boundary review. The majority of the ward is the village of Crymych and surrounding villages which were previously represented by Cris Tomos. Cris is a well-regarded cabinet member of Pembrokeshire council, and at the last election won a relatively tight contest with an independent candidate. Given the number of uncontested seats in Pembrokeshire, it came as some surprise to see a contest here, but the independent candidate who runs a family bus business locally should not be underestimated.
Prestatyn North, Denbighshire
Councillors: 3 – Electorate (2017) 4,851
Candidates: Kelly Clewett (Lab), Peter Duffy (Ind), Rachel Flynn* (Con), Tony Flynn* (Con), Robert Forrest (PC), Sharon Frobisher (Con), Gill German (Lab), Mike German (Ind), Helen Marsden-Duffy (Ind), Jason McLellan (Lab), Paul Penlington* (PC), Sonia Penlington (PC). * sitting councillor.
Profile: The Prestatyn North ward is the northwestern part of the town of Prestatyn. It is very much a ‘red wall’ electoral division — precisely the type of area that Labour would hope to win as a sign that Keir Starmer is on his way to Downing St in due course. The Labour-Conservative electoral battle is further complicated here, both by the nomination of the former Labour Councillor for the ward on behalf of Plaid Cymru; along with a former member of the Conservatives standing as a non-aligned candidate.
Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan
Councillors: 4 – Electorate (2019): 5,833
Candidates: Anna Asbrey (PC), Marianne Cowpe (PC), Robert Crowley* (Con), Vince Driscoll* (Con), Chris Franks (PC), Stephen Griffiths* (Con), Richard Grigg (PC), Andrew Lamb (Lab), Andy Robertson* (Con), Trevor Saunders (Lab), Barry Southwell (LD) * denotes sitting Councillors
Profile: The ward of Dinas Powys ranks as the only Conservative / Plaid marginal seat in the Vale of Glamorgan (and indeed one of only a handful of such seats across the country). Held by Plaid for most of the past two decades, the election of 4 Conservative Councillors at the last election would have come as some surprise. There is little doubt that this will be a closely fought election again, with a contribution to a Conservative majority in the Vale — or a significantly increased Plaid group — the prize on offer for the victors.
Councillors: 1 – Electorate (2018): 1,840
Candidates: Kevin Hughes* (Lab), Paul Pemberton* (Ind). * Sitting Councillors.
Profile: The ward of Ponciau is considerably reduced from the former 2 member division following the boundary review. The majority of the ward live in the Ponciau divisions of Rhosllanerchrugog. Both councillors who were elected for Ponciau at the last election are standing again, but at this election with only one seat available the competition will undoubtedly be fierce. With Labour seeking to make inroads across Wrexham this election could be a sign of the likely make up of the council post-election.
Councillors: 4 – Electorate (2018): 6,052
Candidates: Andrew Barry* (Ind), Martin Eaglestone (Lab), Leighton Evans (PC), Ian Gwynne (PC), Julia Jenkins (Ind), Dai Jones* (Lab), Rose Maycock (Lab), Kelly McCarthy (Lab), Shaun O’Malley (PC), Kevin O’Neill* (Ind), Viv Pugh (PC), John Thomas* (Ind). * Sitting Councillor
Profile: Much thought clearly went into the choice of name for the ward which covers the centre of the town of Merthyr, Town. Town elects four councillors to Merthyr Council which is currently finely balanced between the Independents and Labour. At the last election, three of the four councillors here were Independent, and there is little doubt Labour with one of its big hitters in the area, Martin Eaglestone also standing, will be targetting this ward as part of its strategy to retake control of the council.
Councillor: 1 – Electorate (2017): 1,825
Candidates: David Jenkins* (PC), Emyr Rees (Lab). * Sitting Councillor
Profile: Glanaman lies along the Amman Valley as one travels from Rhydaman towards Brynaman (Upper and Lower). Labour’s best hope for gaining significant influence on Sir Gar / Carmarthenshire council is by winning seats in the Amman Valley (and also in Llanelli). The ward of Glanaman is a tightly contested marginal seat, and Plaid’s victor at the last election, David Jenkins, is standing again. He will hope to retain the seat against what will undoubtedly be a strong challenge from Labour’s Emyr Rees.
Garw Valley, Bridgend
Councillors: 3 – Electorate (2017): 5,534
Candidates: John Peter Coles (Ind), William Esmond (Con), Heather Griffiths (Lab), Martyn Jones* (Lab), Ben Lewis (Con), Maxine Lewis (Lab), Angela Voisey (Con). * Sitting Councillor
Profile: The Garw Valley ward is newly created from four smaller wards — Bettws, Blaengarw, Llangeinor and Pontycymmer. It lies to the north of the town of Bridgend and contains a number of post-industrial villages / small towns. With Labour currently running the Council as a minority administration, winning all three seats here where previously the Garw Valley returned 2 Labour and 2 Independent members will be a major step forward. Neither of the previous independent councillors are standing again, and it would be some surprise if the Conservative candidates managed to sustain the electoral momentum of the indepenedents.
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