Ask which councils in the East of England represent Labour’s best chances of a change in control and most observers will answer Thurrock, Harlow and
. Great Norwich is often missed off the list of prospects, but with a 22-16 split (with one Independent retiring in an otherwise Labour seat), Labour needs just four gains to take back control for the first time since 2000. Yarmouth
Perhaps the easiest pick up will be regaining the seat that is up in Claydon, where former Labour councillor turned Independent Mike Taylor is standing down. The party should retake this historically Labour seat.
In the remaining twelve wards electing councillors next week, Labour and the Conservatives are defending four and eight seats respectively. Labour should be confident in Magdalen ward where they are hoping to turn the third seat in that ward from blue to red. In the corresponding election in this ward last year, the party took a seat from the Conservatives with a majority of nearly 400 votes.
Labour faces a tougher battle in Bradwell North and
North, where Conservative majorities of between 200 and 250 need to be overturned. Victories in both of these seats are necessary to give Labour a chance of gaining control of the council and would indicate that the party is beginning to pick itself up after losing the parliamentary seat in 2010. Yarmouth
Labour is also very competitive in the two Caister wards (North and South), but neither has elections this year – allowing Labour to focus its resources across fewer target wards, but restricting the viable wards in which it can make the gains necessary.
It is difficult to judge Labour’s prospects in these elections, although the issue at hand would appear to be whether Labour can make sufficient gains to take control rather than whether it will make any gains. That would be an improvement on last year, when a solitary gain for Labour in
St Andrews ward was offset by the loss of a seat in Caister South.