UK Politics

Parties in final campaigning for local elections

Polling station sign
Image caption Elections are taking place for 181 councils in Britain

Political parties are carrying out a last day of campaigning ahead of local elections in England, Scotland and Wales on Thursday.

Referendums on creating elected mayors will take place in 10 English cities.

Meanwhile, people in Liverpool, London and Salford will choose their mayor.

Labour are looking to make gains in England and Wales after losses in 2008, while the Conservatives hope to defend seats they gained. The Lib Dems are focusing on areas of existing strength.

Final push

Labour leader Ed Miliband told the BBC that voters had given the government the benefit of the doubt over the past two years but that goodwill was now "draining away" and people were "starting to look again" at his party.

Speaking on a visit to Southampton, he promised Labour could "make a difference" at local level by helping pensioners and creating a "fair deal" for transport users and consumers.

In an e-mail to activists, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said his party had a strong record at council level and a "well-deserved reputation" for getting things done.

The deputy prime minister, who is campaigning in Scotland, insisted that coalition policies championed by his party, such as cutting tax for the low paid, were "starting to make a difference" to the public.

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged his fellow Conservatives to be "proud" of their record in local government, adding that they run "the best-value councils in the country".

"I recognise it's a difficult time for families," he told ITV News.

"I just hope that people will look at these elections and recognise it's about electing your local council - who is going to keep the council tax down, who's going to provide value for money, who's going to look after your area?"

Mayoral votes

In 2008, the last time the seats up for grabs on Thursday were contested, the Conservatives gained 257 councillors across England and Wales, picking up 12 councils in the process.

Labour lost 334 councillors and nine councils. The Liberal Democrats gained 33 councillors and one council.

In London, Labour's former Mayor Ken Livingstone is attempting to regain the role taken from him by Conservative Boris Johnson in 2008.

Mr Johnson won by 53.2% to Mr Livingstone's 46.8% last time round.

Independent Siobhan Benita, the BNP's Carlos Cortiglia, the Green Party's Jenny Jones, Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick and UKIP's Lawrence Webb are also standing.

The 25 seats on the London Assembly are also being contested.

Twelve candidates are running for mayor in Liverpool and 10 in Salford.

Mayoral referendums are taking place Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.

Meanwhile, Doncaster will hold a vote to decide whether to abolish the town's directly elected mayor.

Scotland and Wales

In England, 128 councils are holding elections, with some or all of the seats up for grabs.

, 32 unitary district councils will take place, with all seats available.

And 21 out of 22 unitary district councils are conducting elections, again with all seats available.

One authority, Anglesey, has had its elections delayed until next year after the Welsh government appointed commissioners to run it following critical reports into years of political infighting on the island.