Labour chief predicts Hillingdon election will be very close
Excitement is mounting after the first ballot boxes for the 2022 local elections in Hillingdon began arriving tonight at the counting station at Brunel University London.
The polls for Hillingdon Council closed at 10pm tonight after a day of voting around the borough. The first car with ballot boxes, from the polling station at St Andrew's Church in Uxbridge rolled up at around 10.15pm outside the athletics centre at Brunel where teams of tellers awaited to count the vote.
A cameraman from ITV was on hand along with a team from The Hillingdon Herald to capture the upcoming drama. However, the first results are unlikely to come in before 1am.
The election will determine who runs Hillingdon Council for the next four years. Since 1964, control of Hillingdon Council has rotated between both Labour and the Conservatives. The Tories claimed a majority at the last local election back in 2018, winning 44 of Hillingdon Council’s 65 seats and 54.2% of the popular vote, with Labour winning the remaining 21 seats. Turnout was 38.31%.
Following a boundary review, it was determined that the borough should be divided into 21 wards and represented by 53 councillors – a reduction from the present number of 65 – from 2022 onwards.
By-elections were held in 2020 and 2021, but the Conservatives won both seats and retaining control, with a large swing in votes against Labour. Labour last held control of the council between 1994 to 1998.
Labour Leader Peter Curling told The Hillingdon Herald after the polls closed that he predicted a very close contest with a few votes either side over who will run the council.
He added there would be no runaway winner and said: "I am feeling confident in some ways but there is uncertainty around this result partly because it's a very, very odd campaign.
There has been a lot of national politics as well as local politics - also all the boundaries have changes. Whereas before we knew what the voting patterns of the people of the wards were, that's all been muddled up now - all the balls have been chucked up in the air. I am feeling quite confident but also a bit anxious about how the voting patterns for the new wards will turn out."
More updates and interviews to follow
Additional research by Andrew Fogarty