Local elections 2016: Will Labour keep control in Merseyside?

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Image caption Voters from across Merseyside will be heading to the polls on Thursday

Voters from across Merseyside will be heading to the polling stations on Thursday.

All of the region's five councils have elections this year.

And while in four of them, only one-third of the seats will be contested, in Knowsley all will be up for grabs due to boundary changes and the reduction in the number of councillors from 63 to 45.

In Liverpool, voters will also be asked to elect a city mayor while voters across Merseyside will be electing a police and crime commissioner too.

While Merseyside may be split between red and blue when it comes to football, politically the reds dominate.

Labour currently controls all of the five councils.

Every councillor in Knowsley wears the red rose and in both Liverpool and St Helens, Labour enjoy a huge majority.

Image caption Elections in 124 local authorities in England will take place on 5 May

Labour's other two councils in the region look pretty secure as well but it will be interesting to see how Jeremy Corbyn's leadership plays with voters in Wirral and Sefton, who may be tempted by the Liberal Democrats or Conservative.

The Lib Dems will be hoping to make gains in Sefton and Liverpool - where they ran the council until 2010 before being ousted by Labour.

The party suffered on Merseyside as a result of its coalition with the Conservatives, so it will interesting to see whether they have yet been forgiven.

The Green Party - currently the official opposition on Liverpool City Council - will be looking to grab at least another seat.

They're also hopeful of success in Wirral, where their first candidate was elected in 2014.

Across Merseyside, they are fielding more candidates than the UK Independence Party, which comes as a surprise given the latter have come second in more wards than the Greens in recent years.

While the Conservatives have never seen Merseyside as a heartland, it is worth noting that they still have a significant number of councillors - 21 to Labours 39 - on Wirral Council and will be hoping for an even better result this time around.

Image caption The seven Liverpool mayoral candidates

There are seven men fighting to become Liverpool Mayor, but it will be a big shock if the incumbent, Labour's Joe Anderson, does not win again.

He won with 60% of the vote four years ago.

His challengers are Richard Kemp for the Lib Dems, Tony Caldeira for the Tories, Tom Crone of the Green Party, Independent candidate Alan Hutchinson,Paul Rimmer of the English Democrats and Roger Bannister of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.

What's most interesting about this contest is that the position may only exist for a year.

That's because in 2017, the whole of Merseyside will get to vote for a Metro Mayor, who'll be in charge of the whole city region, not just Liverpool. That will include Halton in Cheshire.

It may be the case that Liverpool will keep its own mayor in addition to the regional one.

Alternatively, city councillors may vote to abolish the role altogether and return to having a council leader and cabinet - the arrangement which was in place until 2012.

Liverpool City Council has yet to decide which option to pursue.

Voters will also be electing a new Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.

The candidates are the incumbent Jane Kennedy (Labour), David Burgess-Joyce (Conservative), Chris Carubia (Lib Dem) and John Coyne (Green).