CANDIDATES have been announced for next month’s Salford council elections, with smaller parties lining up to take on the Labour Party‘s sizeable majority.

The Liberal Democrats are mounting the biggest challenge of the smaller parties, fielding candidates in every one of the Salford City Council’s twenty wards – the only party to do so other than Labour and the Conservatives.

This is a large turnaround from 2016, where the Lib Dems did not field a single candidate.

The Green Party and UKIP are also fighting for a significant number of seats, standing in 12 and 18 wards respectively.

It is widely predicted that Labour will hold onto its 49-seat majority, but the other parties will be focused on claiming any ground they can from the controlling group.

Also standing are independents including Darren Goulden and Marcus Graham, who recently founded the local-interest Community Revolution (CO:RE) party. Mr Goulden will be contesting the Irlam and Mr Graham will fight for Cadishead, aiming to increase community involvement in local politics.

Perhaps most surprising is the inclusion of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who are standing a candidate in Swinton South. The SDP, a splinter group from Labour, largely merged to form the Liberal Democrats in the late 1980s and has barely been seen in local or national politics since.

The SDP’s candidate Joe O’Neill was a Liberal Democrat councillor until 2009 and has also previously stood for UKIP, the Green Party and as an independent.

Labour’s choice to defend Swinton South is new candidate Stuart Dickman, who was selected over sitting party councillor Howard Balkind by members late last year.

The decision to select Dickman led to accusations of a “hard-left conspiracy” by former Conservative Balkind.

Battleground seats include Kersal, where the Tories unexpectedly won a by-election in March last year. The ward may be safer for Labour due to the lack of a local-issue independent candidate, whose presence thought to be a factor in splitting the Labour vote in last year’s contest.

However, the Tories will still be hoping for a repeat performance in the ward, as well as defending its seats in Boothstown, Walkden and Worsley.

The full list of candidates for the Salford council elections can be viewed here.

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