Sunderland City Council elections 2022 preview: The key battles, seats to watch and everything else you need to know

Voters will have the chance to go to the polls to shape the political make-up of Sunderland City Council this week.

By Nic Marko
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 4:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 7:58 am

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Polling stations open at 7am on Thursday, May 5, with almost one third of the 75 councillors on the local authority due to be elected.

The poll for the Copt Hill ward is being rearranged for a later date following the death of UKIP candidate Reginald Coulson, but elections for the other 24 seats on the city council are continuing as planned.

Polls will close at 10pm on Thursday, with the final results coming through in the early hours of Friday morning.

Vote-counting underway at a previous election.

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Here is a guide to what the council looks like currently and what could happen next.

Council make-up:

Labour has held control of Sunderland City Council for almost half a century – since its current incarnation was created in 1973.

However after a run of poor election results, the party has a majority of just six councillors.

Labour holds 43 out of 75 seats, with the Conservatives the second-largest party with 19 seats, followed by the Liberal Democrats with 12.

There is one Independent on the council, Ryhope Councillor Steven Bewick, who was initially elected for UKIP before quitting the party last year.

Seats up for election:

Of the 24 seats which will be decided on election night, 16 are held by Labour, five by Conservatives and three by Liberal Democrats.

The Copt Hill seat, to be contested at a later date, is also held by Labour.

Labour and Conservatives are both standing candidates for every seat, with the Liberal Democrats fielding candidates in 13 wards.

The Green Party are standing candidates in all but two wards, Washington South and Hetton.

Key battles:

All eyes will be on Washington South, where council leader since 2018 Councillor Graeme Miller is standing for re-election, facing competition from Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates.

In 2021 one of the seats in the ward fell to the Conservatives.

Former deputy leader Michael Mordey will be looking to return to the council by holding Hendon for Labour, although the candidate lost out last year to the Liberal Democrats, who will be hopeful of gaining another seat in the ward.

New deputy leader Councillor Claire Rowntree will be aiming to hold her Hetton seat after the party won a tight by-election in the area ahead of the Liberal Democrats in September 2021

In Pallion, Labour will be looking to make gains, with councillor for St Anne’s Karen Noble standing in the ward which at present has three Liberal Democrat councillors.

Susan Watson will be looking to hold the St Anne’s seat for Labour, after she lost out in the ward by three votes to Conservative Councillor Greg Peacock last year.

However the Conservatives, who already hold the other two seats in the St Anne’s, will be looking to further dent Labour’s hold on the council with success in the ward.

The Conservatives will also be looking to make gains from Labour in Ryhope, where they were successful last time out, and in Silksworth, where they narrowly lost out by 47 votes in 2021.

What happens next:

For a party to have an overall majority, they must hold at least 38 of the 75 seats, which means if one group does not have this after the elections, it could open the door for talks over potential coalitions or minority administrations.