Elections are always a significant event but Thursday’s ballot in Liverpool is probably the most important poll in the city’s modern history.
With more than 300 candidates hoping to be voted into the Town Hall, new ward boundaries and changes to voter ID regulations – there are a lot of moving parts to Thursday’s election.
Not content with being the first round of all-out elections in the city – in which every ward is in play, rather than a third at a time – voters face the choice of 85 new councillors across 64 newly drawn wards across all four corners of Liverpool.
It is also the first election since the arrival of government commissioners at the Cunard building. City-wide elections scheduled for last year – which would have led to 30 councillors being voted in – were scrapped in favour of an all out ballot, at the behest of Whitehall following Max Caller’s findings into historic conduct within the Cunard Building.
To add to the chaos, Liverpool is also scrapping the role of Mayor this time around, with current incumbent Joanne Anderson not seeking re-election and set to leave the council altogether after this week.
Amid the many different elements surrounding the election, Labour will be hoping to retain its control of the city council, with group leader Cllr Liam Robinson hoping to become the next council leader.
At the party’s manifesto launch in March, Cllr Robinson said he wanted the vote to represent a “fresh start” with the city and hoped Labour could win the “trust and faith” of the electorate.
Labour is the only party standing in each of the 64 new wards. That hasn’t stopped the Liberal Democrats aiming to seize the reins of power in May. Their leader, Cllr Richard Kemp, has laid out his group “six to fix” priorities it would seek to address from day one should its 57 candidates score a victory.
One group hoping to cause an upset and hold the balance of power is the Liverpool Community Independents. The group was formed amid the controversial council budget in 2022 when a number of former Labour members split from the ruling group in opposition to their financial proposals.
The newly formed political party, which is standing at least nine candidates, is led in the interim by Cllr Alan Gibbons after group boss Anna Rothery was suspended over her role in a parking ticket scandal involving a number of councillors.
Cllr Rothery is not standing, while the party has been at loggerheads with its Labour opponents over controversial social media posts and leaflets sent out disparaging the group.
The Green Party group, led by St Michael’s ward member Cllr Tom Crone, faces a battle with three of their four sitting councillors stepping away from their roles this year. The Liberal Party, led by Steve Radford, is seeking to maintain its hold on five seats in Tuebrook, Croxteth and Childwall.
Voting will take place from 7am to 10pm on Thursday before they are verified ahead of counting on Friday at Wavertree Tennis Centre.
Image: Birkenhead News