Local elections 2022 preview: Richmond

On Thursday, 5 May, voters in Richmond will flock to the polls to elect their councillors for the next four years in this year’s local elections.

In light of boundary commission changes, some residents will find themselves voting in new wards however the total number of councillors will remain the same at 54.

Richmond is currently a Liberal Democrat-held council, occupying 39 seats, with the Conservatives their nearest challengers with 11.

The current leader of the council is Gareth Roberts, who will be standing in the Hampton ward.

Whilst Liberal Democrat support is spread fairly evenly throughout the borough, the current Conservative wards are most concentrated in the Barnes-East Sheen area, which is where Conservative leader of the opposition Paul Hodgins will stand.

In a recent Riverside Radio debate, Roberts stood by the Lib Dems’ record, citing engagement with residents and business-owners as a particular strong point.

Meanwhile Hodgins pointed to the quality of Conservative-run services between 2010 and 2018, particularly schools, and proposed shelving the Twickenham Riverside development.

Labour’s Nick Dexter, standing in Heathfield, argued there was little difference between the parties, especially on social housing.

Andrée Frieze, of Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside, said it was the Greens who pushed the council to provide more police on the streets, a real living wage for workers and contractors and to declare a climate emergency.

Three of London’s 13 Green councillors are in Richmond, and the party is putting up six candidates in wards where it feels it has the best chance of winning.

Council tax looks set to be a key battleground, with band D Richmond residents paid an average rate of £1,959, more than double the £845 in neighbouring Conservative Wandsworth.

Roberts was reported as saying this was due to a regressive system in which bands do not always reflect residents’ wealth, owing to how the boundaries have been drawn up.

While the Conservatives have pledged to freeze council tax for the next four years, the Liberal Democrats argued they have made it as fair a system as possible with reductions and pulling the poorest out of it altogether.

Control of council has historically swung between these two parties with the last changeover before 2018 being in 2014 when the Conservatives won 72% of the seats with 45%.

A key past issue has been fighting the expansion of Heathrow, partly led by Roberts, and forming common ground between Lib Dem and Tory candidates for Richmond Park at the last general election.

Click here for a list of Richmond borough polling stations.

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