Top Tory says Conservatives will win - but it may be closer than before
A senior Conservative says he is confident his party will triumph in the Hillingdon council elections - but believes the margin of victory may be closer than it was before.
Jonathan Bianco, deputy Conservative leader, said the new boundary changes which have reduced the number of seats in the borough from 65 to 53 have caused a degree of uncertainty. But he firmly believes the Tories will reach the magic number of 27 to reclaim their stronghold on the council.
He told The Hillngdon Herald: "I think it's going to be a long night - these nights always are. I think we will see what happens but we're confident we will have a majority at the end of the night.
"The new boundaries have obviously thrown everything up in the air to a degree - things are a little less settled than they would be, but we are confident we will still be governing Hillingdon for the good of the people on Friday."
Earlier, Hillingdon's Labour leader Peter Curling told the Herald he predicted a very close result. In response to this, Mr Bianco said: "I think it will be closer than it was."
He said the Conservatives previously held 44 seats to Labour's 21, and that this now had to be translated to the new numbers.
"We need 27, that's what you need to control," he added. "I am sure we will be ahead of that. I would like to see 30 plus from us - but it's too early to tell. You can't tell how people vote. Everybody has knocked on lots of doors and time will tell whether our interpretation of what they have said and the actuality will come through."
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