Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley

London local council elections aren’t until next year in 2022, but there are a slew of by-elections that have accrued since the start of 2020 that are now being held.

Expectations for Greens have to be low given that the party has not won a council bye-lection in London since before the great local election wipeout of 2010, when a general election on the same day and national Tory/Labour squeeze saw the number of Green councillors plummet from 13 across six boroughs to two lone councillors in Camden and Lewisham.

Still, a good day would see Greens hold their one defence in Richmond and make inroads into majorities elsewhere in the capital on their way to 2022. There are 44 council seats up in total: ten could change hands (Five Tory, three Labour, one Lib Dem, one Green) perhaps more on a particularly dramatic day, but with most of the remaining 30-odd being safe Labour seats and Labour likely to do well in London I can’t see big changes there. Plus there are two local governance referenda and one local planning referendum.

Islington – five(!) seats up but little to get excited about

Bunhill Ward – Claudia Webbe is now an MP in Leicester (replacing Keith Vaz), but this is safe Labour territory despite being Lib Dem in 2006.

Highbury West – Katie Dawson was the first Green elected in Islington for Highbury West in 2006 and defeated in 2010 as part of the wipeout that saw just two Green councillors elected across London. Since then, the ward has been solid Labour despite the neighbouring Highbury East Ward electing Islington’s lone (Green) opposition councillor, Caroline Russell. Greens might make a dent into the majority on a good day.

Holloway Ward – another safe Labour ward with Greens and Lib Dems fighting it out for second.

Mildmay Ward – And another safe Labour seat (seeing a pattern?)

St Peter’s Ward – safe Labour seat…..yawn

Croydon – five seats up and a council in trouble.

Given Croydon Council effectively went bankrupt at the end of last year, this may be a test of Labour voters in the borough.

New Addington North Ward – Safe Labour.

Woodside Ward – Safe Labour.

South Norwood Ward – Safe Labour.

Kenley Ward – Safe Tory.

Park Hill and Whitgift Ward – Tory seat. On a good day for Labour they might take this though.

Hackney – four by-elections

Hoxton East and Shoreditch – incumbent Labour councillor Feryal Clark resigned after she became an MP. Usually a safe Labour seat with Greens and Lib Dems fighting it out for second. Large-scale estate regeneration and a controversial school and leisure centre building project weren’t enough to shift the Labour vote in 2018, so there’s no reason to think it’ll change this time around.

King’s Park – safe Labour seat with Greens a distant second.

Stamford Hill West – this is a Tory/Labour marginal. Labour picked up one of the two seats here in 2014, but lost it in 2018. Stamford Hill has a large Orthodox Jewish community and Labour’s antisemitism issues clearly played a role at the last election. But Labour may do well due to this likely being a higher-turnout election and the Tory London campaign falling so flat.

Woodberry Down – recently a safe Labour seat, the Tories were in contention here as recently as 2010 but have since fallen long behind. Greens finished second in 2018, but are a long way off. A large part of the ward is council estates that are being currently demolished and rebuilt in a scheme that has attracted a lot of controversy (but nowhere near as much as regeneration schemes in Lambeth and Southwark).

Lewisham – four seats up in this one-party state.

Once the strongest borough in London for Greens (six were elected in 2006 Brockley and Ladywell), the party never recovered from losing five of its six councillors in 2010 and lost its final seat in Brockley in 2018.

Bellingham – Safe Labour seat, Tories in second (on a good day, Greens could come second).

Catford South – Safe Labour seat with the Greens a decent second.

New Cross – Safe Labour seat with the Greens a decent second.

Sydenham – Safe Labour seat with the Greens a decent second. On a bad day the Lib Dems might slip into second though.

Greenwich – Four seats up.

Will the Tories hold their second places on a likely bad day for them in London?

Kidbrooke with Hornfair – Labour seat with a spirited battle for second between the Tories and Greens.

Glyndon Ward – Safe Labour seat with the Plumstead Party a distant second.

Greenwich West Ward – Labour seat with a significant Lib Dem vote. Still with a majority of over 1000 it’s Labour’s to lose.

Shooters Hill Ward – Labour seat with the Tories, Plumstead Party and Greens fighting it out for second.

Ealing – where Tories go to become MPs?

Ealing Broadway – Tory/Labour marginal. Alexander Stafford the sitting Tory councillor became an MP.

Hanger Hill – another Tory councillor, Joy Morrissey, became an MP. A larger majority here compared to Ealing Broadway, but on a good night for Labour could add to their 40-odd majority on the council.

Hobbayne ward – Safe Labour seat.


Cranford Ward – safe Labour with Tories second.

Hounslow Heath – safe Labour with Tories second.

 Redbridge – two seats up and no Greens standing

Seven Kings Ward – Safe Labour.

Loxford Ward – Safe Labour.


Chase Ward – Labour/Tory marginal.

Southbury Ward – Safe Labour

Barnet – two seats up

Labour had hoped to make gains here in 2018 but fell flat and got 25 to the Tory’s 38.

Edgeware Ward – safe Tory seat with a majority of over 2000 in 2018.

East Barnet Ward – Tory/Labour marginal

Newham – a referendum and one seat up in another one-party state

Newham, formerly of Mayor Robin Wales fame, is having a referendum on switching to the committee system of governance (used, among other places, in Brighton and Hove).

East Ham Central Ward – Safe Labour

Richmond upon Thames – one Green defence in a possible three-way marginal

Hampton Wick – the only Green defence in London. This was one of the wards where Greens and Lib Dems had a pact, which seems to not be in effect given both parties are contesting the election. The alliance won the ward off the Tories in 2018, meaning they are also in contention particularly if the anti-Tory vote splits between the Greens and Lib Dems even if the Tories have a bad night across London.


Brondesbury Park – a Labour/Tory marginal.


Crystal Palace Ward – Labour defence. One of few non-Tory wards in the borough with the Greens, Lib Dems and Tories a ways behind, it looks likely to see Labour reelected.


Longlands Ward – Safe Tory seat.

Barking and Dagenham – one party state, one seat up, no Greens

Thames Ward – Safe Labour.

Kingston upon Thames – one election with comedy value

Chessington South Ward – Lib Dems defending, but Tories have a high vote here. Plus there are like a dozen Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidates.


St Helier Ward – Safe Labour.

Hillingdon – one seat up

Charville Ward – Tory/Labour marginal. The Tories had one seat to Labour’s two going into the 2018 election and managed to take all three in the ward, so on a good day Labour will be hoping to claw one back.

City of Westminster

Churchill Ward – a Labour/Tory marginal with the latter picking up a seat in 2018 on the back of one of the sitting Labour councillors elected in 2014 standing as a Tory. One of the two Labour Councillors, Andrea Mann, has resigned due to personal reasons. Greens didn’t stand in 2018 but will be represented by Zack Polanski, who’s third on the London Assembly List.


Bedford Ward – Fleur Anderson was elected as an MP for Putney at the end of 2019, so this is a byelection to replace her as a Labour councillor. There was a good 400 votes between the lowest vote for Labour and the highest for their Tory opponents.

Tower Hamlets

No byelections but two local referenda, one on switching from a directly-elected Mayor to a council-leader and cabinet system, and one Local Planning Referendum on the Isle of Dogs on accepting the Neighbourhood Plan for the area.

City of London

No by-elections. In a weird and interesting twist, the City was due to hold its elections in March 2021 but they are delayed until 2022. Anyhow, it’s a super weird place with weird and arcane voting rules, and basically should not exist.

Everywhere else

Camden – no by-elections

Hammersmith and Fulham – no by-elections

Harrow – no by-elections

Haringey – no by-elections

Havering – no by-elections

Kensington and Chelsea – no by-elections

Lambeth – no by-elections

Southwark – no by-elections

Sutton – no by-elections

Waltham Forest – no by-elections

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Image credit: Kelly Hill – Creative Commons