Betting sites believe the Conservative Party is on track for a humiliating national defeat in May’s local election – but that doesn’t mean local councils will all turn to Labour.
Britons will go to the polls in various council seats across England, Scotland and Wales on May 5, while the Northern Ireland Assembly will also be elected.
The Tories are preparing for a strong reaction to recent scandals involving the government, and Labor and the Liberal Democrats are hoping to regain ground across the country.
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The lockdown holiday scrutiny in Downing Street at the height of the coronavirus pandemic has sent Boris Johnson’s approval ratings plummeting in recent weeks, while satisfaction with the government as a whole is down.
The recent cost of living crisis has also been felt at the local level – and opposition parties are understandably pointing out the government’s recent failings during the election campaign.
A wide range of county councils, district councils, metropolitan boroughs and mayoral contests will be voted on in May. Here, we take a look at the latest odds for six main battles that represent the mood of the nation.
Barnet Board – Projected Swing to Work
Work is the current 8/11 favorites to beat the Tories (6/5) for control of Barnet’s council. This is a projected probability of 58%, while it seems highly unlikely that there is no overall control.
There are 63 seats on the council but the number of wards will drop from 21 to 24. Barnet has never voted for a majority on the Labor council and only twice – in 1994 and 1998 – have the Tories failed to take the control.
Labor leader Barry Rawlings feel victory here in a traditionally Thatcherite “true blue” town hall.
Hartlepool Council – Holding Projection Without Global Control
The Conservatives sensationally won Hartlepool in the 2021 by-election in what was seen as a complete shake-up of traditional party voting. Hartlepool had always been a Labor stronghold, but Jill Mortimer’s victory was seen as proof that Johnsonian politics were reaching even farther north.
Fast forward a year and Labor doesn’t look likely to claim Hartlepool local council – but neither do the Tories. William Hill reckons Hartlepool council have 75 per cent chance (1/3) to have no overall control in this election.
This would reflect his current position. The council has never been under Conservative control and there are only 13 of the 36 seats being voted on this year. The chances of a conservative majority are at 9/4 (31% chance).
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Worthing Council – Projected Swing to Work
Worthing has traditionally been a Conservative or Liberal Democrat led council. And the 2021 election saw the Tories once again claim a majority – albeit by the slimmest of one-seat margins. Subsequently, a Conservative councilor became independent and they also lost a by-election.
This means that currently Worthing Council does not have an overall majority. Yet Labor is ready to take control. Political betting sites have work like the 1/2 favorites (66.7% chance) of winning at least 19 places here.
Conversely, the Conservatives are 2/13 (13.3%). It’s also possible we’ll have no overall control again, but Labor – who say pensioners are worse off at £389 under the Tories – will be aiming for a win here, that’s for sure.
Havering Council – Holding projection without global control
The Tories would very much like Havering back, as the council has had no overall control of any party since 2014. And while Labor is unable to command a majority here, the Tories face an uphill battle.
The reason is the Havering Residents Association, which commands 16 of the 54 seats. However, the Conservatives themselves share the majority of power with another group of residents.
The complexity of the composition of the board means that another “No Overall Control” outcome is likely to occur. 4/11 (73%). But the conservatives are 2/1 claim the council for themselves – and that would prove a great victory if a majority were achieved.
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Stockport Council – Holding Projection Without Global Control
The Tories don’t really have a dog in this fight, with Labor and the Liberal Democrats battling for supremacy on Stockport council. The betting sites are again betting on no overall majority, with a remarkably low prize at 1/7 with Ladbrokes (87.5% probability).
The reason is that only a third of the 63 seats are up for grabs this season. Labor currently has 25 seats and the Liberal Democrats 26, so neither can claim a majority unless they win virtually every ward.
The Women’s Equality Party, Reform UK and Stockport Fights Austerity No to Cuts are all vying for votes here.
Newcastle-under-Lyme – Swing planned for Tories
The Tories currently have interim control of Newcastle-under-Lyme council after four independents backed the party in November 2021.
Labor had themselves been just three seats away from a majority in the last election in 2018, but now face a tough challenge to prevent the Tories from controlling the council again.
All 44 seats in 21 wards are up for grabs in May – and the Tories are tipped to win. They are priced at 23/20 (47% probability), while work is down to 11/4 in bookmaker odds (26% probability).
This year, Labor and the Conservatives are fielding candidates for the 44 seats available. Gill and John Williams – the Labor councilors who occupied Cross Heath for 30 years – are standing again.
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