This year’s Wirral Council elections are more important than ever, as control of the authority is up for grabs.

After being deprived of its majority in 2019, Labour is looking to take seats back to get majority control of the council once again, while the opposition parties believe they can further dent the party’s support.

Huge issues are on the table in the May 6 vote, with a Local Plan which is set to see around 12,000 homes built in the borough over the next 15 years and turning around a perilous budget situation on the authority’s agenda.

The key battles

One major contest will take place in Pensby and Thingwall, where Labour and the Tories are set to fight it out in what looks set to be a close contest.

Independent councillor Mike Sullivan is understood to be standing down, meaning the seat would be a gain for either of the two parties.

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Labour is also looking to pick up an extra seat in Rock Ferry after Bill Davies, formerly an Independent councillor, passed away last year.

The Green Party is looking to defeat Labour councillors in Birkenhead and Tranmere, and Prenton. Winning both of these seats would be a major coup for the party.

It would also signal a major change in the future of the council, as it is hard to see how Labour can get a majority going forward without winning in these two areas.

The Greens also believe they have a shot at Bebington, another ward that is traditionally a Labour stronghold.

As well as competing to take Pensby and Thingwall, the Conservatives are campaigning hard in Leasowe and Moreton East, a ward where councillors are all Labour members.

The Liberal Democrats can hope to maintain their strong support in Oxton and Eastham, wards which give them six councillors in total.

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How each party is feeling

Labour’s Liz Grey said her party is in a good position to keep all of its councillors and gain new ones.

The chair of the council’s environment and transport committee added that Labour can be proud of what it has achieved since the 2019 elections, with many unpopular policies removed from the council’s agenda.

Cllr Grey said campaigners acknowledged Labour was doing all it can to protect green space in the Local Plan.

She was adamant that fellow Labour councillor Anita Leech, who is in charge of the Local Plan, could not possibly do more to make sure that any green space which should be protected is.

Cllr Jeff Green, leader of the Conservative group, said the Tories will contest every seat and have been working hard across the piece, seeing major progress in Pensby and Thingwall and Leasowe and Moreton.

Cllr Green said his party wants to keep Wirral clean and green, as well as supporting the vaccination programme.

He also thought Labour’s plan to stop grass cutting in some locations was wrong, saying the council should find the money to do so where it is needed within its budget.

For the Greens, Cllr Pat Cleary said his party’s vote share had been rising in recent years due to better understanding of environment and social justice issues.

The election of Green councillors in recent years had helped to deprive Labour of its majority, which Cllr Cleary said had helped make the council far more transparent and co-operative.

As the Greens have grown, the Birkenhead and Tranmere councillor said unpopular policies such as the Hoylake Golf Resort Plan, the free Wirral View newspaper and the contracting of the Kingdom ‘litter police’ had ended.

He said the Greens will fight the election on environmental issues and a commitment to a brownfield housing policy, protecting the greenbelt.

The Liberal Democrats said they will be pushing for £100,000 extra cash to support young people in Wirral.

As well as pushing the council to develop on brownfield sites and regenerate Wirral’s “historic heart”, Cllr Phil Gilchrist, leader of the Lib Dem council group, said young people have missed out on so much during the pandemic.

He wanted to invest in youth services to help provide advice and support for young people.

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Wirral Council said measures will be in place to make sure polling stations are covid safe, but you can download a postal vote here.

You must apply by 5pm on April 20 at the latest for a postal vote, but you are advised to do so as soon as possible unless you wish to vote in person.