2017 Welsh local elections

Local elections were held in Wales on Thursday 4 May 2017 to elect members of all 22 local authorities, including the Isle of Anglesey, which was last up for election in 2013 due to having its elections delayed for a year. The 2017 Welsh community council elections also took place on the same day. These local elections were held alongside local elections in Scotland and parts of England.

2017 Welsh local elections

 2012 4 May 2017 (2017-05-04) 2022 

All 1,271 seats to 22 Welsh councils
  First party Second party
Leader Carwyn Jones Leanne Wood
Party Labour Plaid Cymru
Leader since 10 December 2009 16 March 2012
Last election 580 seats, 34.9%[1] 170 seats, 16.1%
Seats won 468 208
Seat change 112 38
Popular vote 294,989 160,519
Percentage 30.4% 16.5%
Swing 4.5% 0.5%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Andrew R. T. Davies Mark Williams
Party Conservative Liberal Democrats
Leader since 14 July 2011 8 May 2016
Last election 105 seats, 12.5% 73 seats, 8.0%
Seats won 184 63
Seat change 79 10
Popular vote 182,520 66,022
Percentage 18.8% 6.8%
Swing 6.3% 1.2%

Colours denote the winning party with outright control (left), and the largest party by ward (right)

The last elections were in 2012. Normally these elections take place every four years, but the 2017 elections were postponed for a year in order to avoid clashing with the 2016 Welsh Assembly election, which itself was postponed by a year to avoid clashing with the previous year's general election.

The Labour Party had a net loss of 112 council seats, and also lost control of the Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Bridgend councils. Labour did, however, retain control of Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, and five other councils. The Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru had a net gain of 38 seats and won control of the Gwynedd Council (the council had shifted to Plaid control in June 2012, and is thus counted in this article as a 'gain'); it also fell just short of controlling the Carmarthenshire County Council. The Conservatives had a net gain of 79 seats, and won control of one council, Monmouthshire; the Conservatives also became the largest party in Vale of Glamorgan and Denbighshire. In ten of the 22 councils, no party had overall control of the council.[2]

Overview and background

In the last local elections in Wales in 2012 (including a delayed election for the Isle of Anglesey County Council in 2013), the 1,265 local seats in Wales were won by the following: 580 Labour; 307 independents; 170 Plaid Cymru; 105 Conservatives, 73 Liberal Democrats, 2 UKIP and 28 others.[3]

Ahead of the 2017 elections, Labour were defending 536 seats and control of ten of the 22 Welsh local authorities;[4] Plaid Cymru was defending 177 seats, and the Conservatives was defending 103 seats.[5] The Liberal Democrats were defending 75 seats,[6][7] having "made a net gain of three council seats as a result of by-elections and defections" since 2012.[6] The Wales Green Party was defending a single seat.[7]

Labour suffered several defections among its Welsh councilors prior to the 2017 elections. In September 2014, ten Labour councillors on the Wrexham County Borough Council left the Labour Party and quit the Labour council group.[8] In August 2016, the councilor for Splott, Cardiff left Labour.[9] In November 2016, Labour lost two of its Cardiff councillors in two days, with the Llandaff North councillor resigning from the council because of a "culture of bullying" and the Adamsdown councillor leaving the Labour group to sit as an independent after he was not re-selected to run in 2017.[10] The de-selection of several Bridgend Labour councillors was also reported.[11]

A total of 1,159 seats were up for election in the 2017 Welsh local elections.[4] Labour fielded 910 candidates,[5] the Conservatives 621 candidates,[5] Plaid Cymru 549 candidates,[5] the Liberal Democrats 280 candidates,[7] UKIP 80 candidates,[7] and the Greens 78 candidates.[7] Additionally, more than 870 people ran as independent or candidates for other parties.[7] 10.4% of wards were uncontested with almost a hundred candidates running unopposed.[4][12] In one ward, Yscir in Powys, no candidate filed to run,[4][13][14] the election was deffered until the 21 June 2017, when it was won by the Conservative Party.[15]

Elections in the wards in Cyfarthfa, Merthyr Tydfil and Llandyfriog, Ceredigion were postponed after the deaths of local candidates.[4]

Eligibility to vote

All registered electors (British, Irish, Commonwealth and European Union citizens) who are aged 18 or over on polling day are entitled to vote in the local elections.[16] A person who has two homes (such as a university student who has a term-time address and lives at home during holidays) can register to vote at both addresses as long as they are not in the same electoral area, and can vote in the local elections for the two different local councils.[17]

Individuals must be registered to vote by midnight twelve working days before polling day (13 April 2017).[18] Anyone who qualifies as an anonymous elector has until midnight on 25 April 2017 to register.[19]

The 2017 Welsh local elections are likely to be the last local elections to be held before widespread changes by the Welsh Government under the Local Government & Elections (Wales) Bill. The Bill extends voting rights to 16 & 17 year olds and foreign citizens living in Wales, and makes it easier to register voters for future local elections. Around 1,900 prisoners would also be eligible to vote for the first time.[20][21]

Wales-wide results

Party Votes[3] % +/- Councils +/- Seats +/-
Labour 294,989 30.4% 4.5% 7 3 468 112
Independent 218,817 22.5% 1.3% 3 1 309 2
Conservative 182,520 18.8% 6.3% 1 1 184 79
Plaid Cymru 160,519 16.5% 0.5% 1 1 208 38
Liberal Democrats 66,022 6.8% 1.2% 0 63 10
Green 12,441 1.3% 0.2% 0 1 1
UKIP 11,006 1.1% 0.3% 0 0 2
Other 24,594 2.5% 0.3% 0 21 7
No overall control n/a n/a n/a 10 1 n/a n/a

For comparative purposes, the table above shows changes since 2012 including Anglesey's council, which was last elected in 2013.

The Labour Party had a net loss of 112 council seats, and also lost control of the Blaenau Gwent and Bridgend councils. Labour did, however, retain control of Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, and five other councils. The Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru had a net gain of 38 seats and won control of the Gwynedd Council (the council had shifted to Plaid control in June 2012, and is counted in the table above as a 'gain'); it also fell just short of controlling the Carmarthenshire County Council. The Conservatives had a net gain of 79 seats, and won control of one council, Monmouthshire; the Conservatives also became the largest party in Vale of Glamorgan and Denbighshire. The Wales Green Party won their first county council seat in Powys. In ten of the 22 councils, no party had overall control of the council.[2]

Principal councils

Council Previous control Result Details
Isle of Anglesey No overall control No overall control Details
Blaenau Gwent Labour Independent Details
Bridgend Labour No overall control (Labour minority)[22] Details
Caerphilly Labour Labour Details
Cardiff Labour Labour Details
Carmarthenshire No overall control No overall control (Plaid/Independent coalition)[23] Details
Ceredigion No overall control No overall control (Plaid/Independent coalition)[24] Details
Conwy No overall control
(Plaid Cymru/Labour/LibDem/Independent coalition) †
No overall control (Independent/Conservative coalition with LibDem support) [25][26][27] Details
Denbighshire No overall control
(Plaid Cymru/Independent/Conservative coalition) ‡
No overall control
(Independent/Conservative coalition)
Flintshire No overall control No overall control (Labour minority) [28] Details
Gwynedd Plaid Cymru†† Plaid Cymru Details
Merthyr Tydfil Labour Independent Details
Monmouthshire No overall control Conservative Details
Neath Port Talbot Labour Labour Details
Newport Labour Labour Details
Pembrokeshire Independent Independent Details
Powys Independent No overall control (Independent/Conservative coalition)[29] Details
Rhondda Cynon Taff Labour Labour Details
Swansea Labour Labour Details
Torfaen Labour Labour Details
Vale of Glamorgan No overall control (Labour/Llantwit coalition) No overall control (Conservative/Independent coalition)[30][31] Details
Wrexham No overall control No overall control (Independent/Conservative coalition) [32][33] Details

† In 2014, the only Welsh Liberal Democrat cabinet member defected to Welsh Labour, therefore the Liberal Democrats are no longer part of the coalition.[34] In 2015, several Independent councillors created their own group within the council called Conwy First. This group later on went to support the council instead of the remaining five independent councillors, meaning the current coalition is made up of Plaid Cymru, Welsh Labour and Conwy First.[35]

‡ The Welsh Liberal Democrats have since lost its only seat on the Council, therefore leaving the coalition.[36][37]

†† Plaid Cymru at the original election won exactly half the seats available, they took control of the council by winning the final seat in a delayed election in June 2012.[38]

Community & town councils

Elections were held for around 8,000 seats on over 730 community and town councils across Wales.[39]

The 2017 Local Government Elections data revealed that over 64% of community council seats in Wales were elected uncontested. Only two Principal Council areas had over 50% contested seats. Bridgend had the lowest amount of uncontested seats, with 28%. In comparison, Cardiff had the highest amount of uncontested seats with 74%.[40]

Over half (55 per cent) of community councillors were aged 60 or above. 1.2 per cent of community councillors were non-white and around 65 per cent of candidates were male. 15 per cent considered themselves to have a disability. Ahead of the 2022 elections, the Welsh Government established an 'Independent Review Panel on Community and Town Councils' which in October 2018 made a series of recommendations to improve future candidate diversity and address the large number of uncontested seats.[40]

Opinion polling

Polling organisation/client Sample size Lab PC Con LDem UKIP Others Lead
4 May 20172017 Election Results970,90830.4%16.5%18.8%6.8%1.1%26.3%11.6%
19-21 Apr 2017YouGov1,02928%19%26%7%8%12%2%
3 May 20122012 Election Results853,59334.9%16.1%12.5%8.0%0.8%27.7%20.2%


  1. Note that these results also include results from the 2013 Isle of Anglesey County Council election, and so will not match up precisely with the results of the 2012 Welsh local elections
  2. Wales' local elections 2017 results, BBC News (May 4, 2017).
  3. "Year Tables". December 19, 2015.
  4. Wales' Local elections: Labour leader ousted in Merthyr, BBC News (May 4, 2017).
  5. 'Theresa May candidates' in Wales (11:10pm): Live Local elections 2017 results: Labour braced for heavy losses as Conservatives sweep up Ukip seats, Telegraph (May 4, 2017).
  6. Lib Dems attack 'arrogance and laziness' of councils, BBC News (April 12, 2017).
  7. Last local election campaigning before polling day, BBC News (May 3, 2017).
  8. Ten Wrexham Labour councillors quit group and party, BBC News (September 3, 2014).
  9. Ruth Mosalski, A Cardiff councillor has defected from Labour saying the party has a 'culture of bullying and harassment', Wales Online (August 2, 2016).
  10. Two Cardiff councillors quit Labour group in two days, BBC News (November 30, 2016).
  11. Servini, Nick (November 17, 2016). "Infighting costs Labour town council" via www.bbc.co.uk.
  12. Hicks, Edward (April 30, 2019). "Uncontested elections: Where and why do they take place?" via commonslibrary.parliament.uk. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. Twm Owen, No candidate for seat on Powys council, ITV News (April 5, 2017).
  14. The council seat no-one wants to represent, Brecon & Radnor Express (April 5, 2017).
  15. "Tory wins Yscir by-election where no-one stood at May poll". BBC News. 23 June 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-09-12. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  16. "Representation of the People Act 1983, Section 2". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  17. Electoral Commission. "I have two homes. Can I register at both addresses?". electoralcommission.org.uk. The Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  18. "Timetable for local elections in England and Wales: 4 May 2017". The Electoral Commission. Archived from the original (doc) on 24 April 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  19. The deadline for the receipt and determination of anonymous electoral registration applications is one working day before the publication date of the notice of alteration to the Electoral Register (that is the sixth working day before polling day). cf "Guidance for Electoral Registration Officers (Part 4 – Maintaining the register throughout the year)" (pdf). Cabinet Office and The Electoral Commission. July 2016. p. 114 (para 7.128). Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  20. "Prisoners to vote in assembly and council polls". September 25, 2019 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  21. Steven Morris (18 November 2019) "Welsh bill would allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in local elections", theguardian.com. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  22. Bolter, Abby (May 18, 2017). "Labour takes top positions on Bridgend council once again". walesonline.
  23. "Carmarthenshire Council AGM, a few points". May 25, 2017.
  24. "Tribute paid to candidate as new Ceredigion Council is formed". Tivyside Advertiser.
  25. "New Conwy council leader elected". May 18, 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  26. "Plaid Conwy leader seeks Tory deal". June 2, 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  27. Davidson, Tom; Brennan, Shane (May 18, 2017). "Conwy Council elects new leader". northwales.
  28. "Councillor Aaron Shotton re-elected as Leader of Flintshire County Council". Deeside.com.
  29. Penrose, Naomi. "Leader of Powys County Council announces new cabinet". www.shropshirestar.com.
  30. "Vale council leadership confirmed". Barry And District News.
  31. "Male cabinet 'new low for diversity'". May 26, 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  32. "Wrexham Council's New Executive Board – Opposition Parties React". Wrexham.com.
  33. Bagnall, Steve (May 17, 2017). "Independents and Tories set to run Wrexham council". northwales.
  34. David Powell (2014-07-04). "Conwy: Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Priestley defects to Labour". Daily Post. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  35. David Powell (2016-03-10). "Conwy council Independents in disarray over attempt to oust Plaid Cymru leader". Daily Post. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  36. "Denbighshire Labour councillor defends opposition". Denbighshirefreepress.co.uk. 2012-06-13. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  37. "Committee details – Cabinet". Denbighshire County Council. 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  38. "All About Councils - One Voice Wales". www.onevoicewales.org.uk.
  39. "Independent Review Panel on Community and Town Councils in Wales Final Report" (PDF). Welsh Government. October 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2020. Text was copied from this source, which is available under an Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.