If there’s one rule for local election results in Bradford, it is to expect the unexpected.
Even Bradford Council’s leader, Councillor David Green (Lab) admits as much, saying he’s anticipating “the odd unexpected result.” Labour is just short of an overall majority on the Council but is hoping to get this in the bag when the district goes to the polls tomorrow.
But the group, and the opposition Conservative group, are both facing tough competition from smaller parties hoping to get their foot in the door.
Coun Green said: “As ever, with Bradford elections, there is going to be the odd unexpected result. This is Bradford, and there always is. But the information we are getting back from our canvassing and public meetings is that there is a recognition of the progress that has been made in Bradford over the last four years.”
This year’s polls coincide with the European elections, and Coun Green acknowledged that this will “bring a different dynamic into it,” but that he was confident the public would be pleased with Labour’s record locally.
At the last local election, in 2012, it was Respect which caused an upset, with five councillors elected for the first time, shortly after George Galloway’s victory in the Bradford West parliamentary by-election.
While those councillors might have all since parted company with Respect, all eyes will be on city centre wards to see if the party makes another breakthrough. In the run-up to the elections, Mr Galloway has been scathing about the district’s performance in matters from schooling to health care. He said: “We're just about bottom of every league you'd want to be top of and top of every league you'd want to be bottom of.”
Another party with the potential to cause an upset is Ukip, which is hoping to get its first councillors elected into Bradford Council. Ukip is expected to do well in the European elections, and its local election candidates are optimistic those voting for them in Europe could vote for them locally too. Jason Smith, UKIP’s Bradford chairman, said people were now seeing it as more than a single-issue party.
Conservative leader, Councillor Glen Miller, acknowledged Ukip’s threat to his own party – and even to his own prospects of being re-elected in his Worth Valley ward.
He said he recognised people wanted to cast protest votes, but urged those who wanted to see change at the Council to back the Conservatives, as the only effective opposition to the Labour administration.
Green group leader Councillor Martin Love said it too was hoping to reap the benefits of people’s dissatisfaction with the three main parties.
The Liberal Democrats group remains upbeat about polling day, despite a slip in the party’s popularity nationally.
Group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, said local Lib Dem councillors proved their worth to the electorate.
Six MEPs for the region will also be elected tomorrow, with people asked to vote for a party rather than individual candidates.
The following parties are standing in Yorkshire for the European Elections: An Independence from Europe; the British National Party; the Conservative Party; the English Democrats; the Green Party; the Labour Party; the Liberal Democrats; NO2EU; the UK Independence Party and Yorkshire First.
The count for the local elections will be held on Friday at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre in Odsal and Keighley Leisure Centre, with the results expected later in the afternoon. The European election results are being announced across the European Union on Sunday, May 25.