How will the political map change?

A rising number of uncontested seats and fears of a low turnout hint that all may not be well at the political grassroots ahead of today's local government elections.

A rising number of uncontested seats and fears of a low turnout hint that all may not be well at the political grassroots ahead of today's local government elections.

But the politicians have had their say and now it is your turn to give a verdict on the people running many of your council services.

The region's political map is dominated by swathes of Tory blue with hints of Lib Dem yellow, while Labour holds the fort in Norwich.

And while overall there may not be much change in who controls what, one result will have national significance: if the Tories secure a victory in South Norfolk, there will be much talk of the Cameron effect taking hold and proof that his 'vote blue go green' strategy could yield the keys to Number 10. Anything less and questions will be asked about his leadership.

Here we look at what is at stake where you live.


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Forget what's troubling voters, it's unrest among council staff that has dominated debate in the run-up to today's election for the authority's 54 seats - but whether that cuts any ice with the electorate remains to be seen. The spectre of strike action over pay and conditions still looms large and opposition candidates have, unsurprisingly, blamed the ruling Conservative administration. Politicians have also squabbled over the timing of a marketing campaign highlighting the council's achievements.

t Verdict: Pay day, not poll day, is the order of events in a contest where the result looks a foregone conclusion.


It's difficult to see any opposition party shifting the Tory tanks off this true- blue piece of turf, but expect a few interesting battles along the way. Broadland has a habit of throwing up independent candidates, and, this time around, council leader Simon Woodbridge could be in the firing line in Great Witchingham, where an independent is standing following a row over the Banham Poultry rendering plant. Lib Dem leader Stuart Beadle is already back in as his Reepham seat is uncontested, and his party would hope to do well in the urban parts of the district around Norwich. Such is the state of play for Labour that even a single win would be a 100pc improvement.

t Verdict: Everything should smell of roses for the Tories, but the 'rendering' result in Great Witchingham could cause a stink.


The Conservatives don't even have to get out of bed today to regain control of Fenland. Eighteen of their candidates are unopposed, and lack of opposition in multi-seat wards guarantees them another four seats and an instant majority. The only slight blip of interest surrounds the Liberal Democrats, who are fielding 11 candidates to Labour's six and could well become the official opposition for the first time.

t Verdict: Fat chance for Labour


It is odds on that this Tory heartland will stay blue, and political punters would be hard-pressed to predict any upsets. The Conservatives are the only party that has fielded candidates in every ward and, as a result, has already won five uncontested seats. However, in Brandon East, the three existing Conservatives face stiff competition from town chairman Reg Silvester, who stands for Ukip, and Independent community leader Cyril Brown. The newly formed Forest Heath Independent Alliance Party, which has three candidates, may make some ground in Newmarket.

t Verdict: Conservatives conquer, but Independents may have their day.


With David Cameron stopping off at Stow-market, the view is the Liberal Democrats have an uphill struggle to wrest control from the ruling Tory group. And with four of the five current independent councillors aligning themselves with the Tories and the other supporting the Greens, the battle for supremacy could revolve around their wards.

t Verdict: David Cameron must think there's more chance of the trains running on time than the Tories losing this.


The issue amid the dreaming spires of Ely is whether the council will still be hung after the election. With one seat in it, the six independents hold the whip hand. With 10 of them standing this time, they could just take enough seats off the Lib Dems or Tories to give one or the other control. Getting anything done is the main issue at present, with decisions made over thorny matters such as parking charges being called in and taken for a trip round the political houses.

t Verdict: Tactical voting could end deadlock, if voters can be bothered to turn out.


The Liberal Democrats who swept to overall power last time by doubling their number of seats will be looking to hold on to what they have. However, it could all change with the loss of just a handful of seats to the Tories, coupled with the traditional sidling up of blue-tinted independents into an alliance. Labour will be hoping to break their duck having lost all four seats at the last poll. Hotspots to watch are Happisburgh, where new candidates inherit a slim five-vote majority for the Lib Dems over the Tories, and Fakenham, where all the current Lib Dems have stood down, opening up a fresh fight.

t Verdict: The kingdom of Lib Dem Lambland could face some erosion from a rising sea of blue, but will it change who is on the throne?


City Hall is like a political prism these days, yet it will only take a dash more Green to change the hue of the council. Only a third of the council is up for grabs, but minority rule dominates at the moment with Labour (just) at the helm. The Greens are chasing Town Close and Thorpe Hamlet from the Lib Dems in a bid to secure second spot on the authority. But politics is a fine art and, like a thriller with an unfinished end, the plotlines abound - will Labour leader Steve Morphew lose out to the Lib Dems in Mile Cross? Will the Tories make the breakthrough? Can the Lib Dems, bruised from defeat last time round, land a knockout blow? Anyone fancy a coalition?

t Verdict: Expect the paint to dry in broadly the same proportions.


From online video launches to David Cameron cleaning up graffiti in Diss, the Tories have run a powerful and eye-catching campaign. They've made most of the running over the last month, with glossy websites and blogs. But it's on the doorstep that counts, and the Lib Dems say they're confident their softly-softly campaign will keep them in control.

t Verdict: The one to watch and a test of the 'Cameron effect'. But will voters be logging on to a new blue era or watching a yellow rerun?


All parties are fishing for the eco-vote in the light of the Green Party fielding candidates across the 17 wards up for grabs today. The much-needed third crossing for Lowestoft, debate over council tax levels, the decision to axe middle schools and the Tory-led council's commitment to outsource a number of services will come into consideration. But will Labour's hopes of eating away at the Tories' comfortable maj-ority founder in the face of national disaffection with the government? Meanwhile, the Lib Dems will be praying they can gain a bigger footprint in the district, with its three members currently squashed into the Kirkley ward of Lowestoft.

t Verdict: Could green issues net a surprise catch?


West Norfolk looks certain to stay under Conservative control, with once-powerful Labour unable to field enough candidates to mount a challenge or even entertain a coalition with the Lib Dems. After a laid-back campaign in which the Tories haven't even broken into a sweat, it is hard to pinpoint any issue which will bring voters to the polls. Windfarm plans in the Fens and elsewhere have ruffled a few feathers, but little else is rocking the boat. Council leader John Dobson is quitting politics today to concentrate on battling illness. His deputy Nick Daubney will be easing himself into the chair.

t Verdict: Is that the time already..?


Pavement café charges, roulette rows and clifftop parking have been in the news in Yarmouth, but are they issues likely to upset the political balance of power? With a third of seats up for grabs, the Tory-run council remains confident that, with the national picture looking gloomy for Labour, their six-seat lead cannot be caught. Like a red-blue piece of seaside rock, Yarmouth has traditionally been the preserve of the two main parties, but Candidates from the Lib Dems, Greens, Ukip and the National Front are also standing. And a battle of the wives promises to add spice to the contest, with Mary Coleman, wife of leader Tory Barry Coleman, and Hilary Wainwright, wife of shadow leader Labour's Trevor Wainwright squaring up for the seat of West Flegg.

t Verdict: (all together now) “Mr and Mrs... be nice to each other!”


Heritage, bin collections and green issues may be at the top of the agenda for the elections at St Edmundsbury district, but five wards have already been settled. In the rest of this rural borough, which includes Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill, 95 candidates have entered the fray for the 26 contested wards - nearly 50pc more than in 2003. Council leader John Griffiths, who is re-standing for Ixworth ward, will be hoping to make more gains after seizing control away from Labour eight years ago.

t Verdict: Load of old rubbish holds key to political preservation.

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