United Kingdom local elections, 1976

United Kingdom local elections, 1976

Local elections were held in the United Kingdom on May 6, 1976. Elections were for one third of the seats on Metropolitan borough councils and for all seats on Non-Metropolitan district councils in England; and for all seats on the Welsh district councils.

The elections were the first electoral test for the new Prime Minister James Callaghan, and were a major reverse for the ruling Labour Party. The opposition Conservative party made large gains of seats and control of councils at the expense of both Labour and the Liberal Party. ["Tories seize cities but fail to achieve expected landslide", The Times, May 7, 1976] ["Tories gain most in big towns: Liberals ousted in Liverpool", The Times, May 7, 1976] ["Heavy Labour losses in district polls", The Times, May 8, 1976] ["Conservatives control 17 metropolitan councils", The Times, May 8, 1976] ["Another loss for Labour in local elections", The Times, May 11, 1976] ["Protest on poll by Kent Conservatives", The Times, May 12, 1976]

The Conservatives easily gained control of their principal target council, Birmingham. The new administration in the city pledged to reintroduce the sale of council houses, which had been stopped by the previous Labour-controlled council. ["Tory winners plan to sell council houses", The Times, May 8, 1976] Control of another five metropolitan borough councils were gained by the Conservatives at Labour's expense. The party also gained numerous non-metropolitan districts , including large towns and cities such as Derby, Exeter, Ipswich, Leicester, Luton, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Peterborough and York.

Major English councils held by Labour included Manchester, Norwich, Nottingham and Stoke on Trent.

Break-away groups from the official Labour Party achieved success in two districts. The Lincoln Democratic Labour Association retained control of the city council. The association had been formed following the expulsion of local member of parliament, Dick Taverne from the party. ["New recruiting drive by Taverne group", The Times, May 8, 1976] In Blyth Valley the Independent Labour Party gained nine seats from the official Labour candidates. The ILP were supporters of Eddie Milne, former MP for Blyth. Milne had been expelled from Labour in April 1974. ["Former MP views result as sign of personal following", The Times, May 8, 1976] Labour lost control of North East Derbyshire, where all the party's seats in Clay Cross passed to Ratepayer candidates. The town had been the scene of a dispute between the former urban district council and the government over the Housing Finance Act.

The Liberals lost control of their only local authority, Liverpool City Council. Labour became the largest party on the council, which was under no overall control.

In Wales, the dominant position of Labour was overturned. Major Labour losses were Cardiff and Newport to the Conservatives, Swansea to Ratepayers and Merthyr Tydfil to Plaid Cymru. ["Labour beaten after decades of rule in Welsh heartlands", The Times, May 8, 1976]

The Results

Metropolitan Boroughs

† New ward boundaries


† New ward boundaries


† Ward boundary changes


† New ward boundaries



† New ward boundaries

† New ward boundaries



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