With Swindon Borough Council’s ruling Labour group holding a majority of seven seats in the council, chamber, and the Conservatives struggling somewhat in national polls, some may see the election as a forgone conclusion with Labour holding power afterwards.

And while that is the most likely outcome, it is not mathematically inevitable.

There are 19 seats up for grabs, as is normal, and another one caused by the resignation of Councillor Dave Martyn in Wroughton. The way the seats have fallen means Labour will definitely have 27 seats after the election and the Conservatives nine.

But if the Conservatives win all 20 seats contested this May, then that would take them to 29, a majority of precisely one over Labour’s 27 and the lone Liberal Democrat.

It might be unlikely, but it is possible.

And there is a distinct advantage to whichever party gets to run the council after May.

For a start, it will get two years before having to go to the voters again.

Swindon currently elects its councillors in thirds, with an election for 19 members out of 57 every year for three years, with one year in the four-year cycle ‘off’. And that ‘off year’ is next year so the cabinet running the council gets two years to make changes before submitting to the voters’ judgement in 2026.

And there’s more.

The next election after 2026, where all 57 seats will be contested, will be 2030, meaning the administration after 2026 will have a full four years to enact its programme without interruption.

So, in a way, this election is the most important for a while.

And the leaders of the main parties certainly think it’s worth people voting.

The leader of the Conservative opposition group, Councillor Gary Sumner seems to accept his party has a hard job to win back power but thinks people should vote to constrain what is likely to be a Labour administration.

He said: “It is a racing certainty after the forthcoming elections that Labour will still be the administration in Swindon, but I would ask residents to consider whether this Labour administration should be without checks and balances from a Conservative opposition?

“We have good, hardworking and experienced ward councillors seeking re-election and I would suggest that residents will be well served in terms of day-to-day issues where they live, by supporting those councillors – they really do make a difference in residents’ lives.

“From support for residents with council housing, education, planning issues, highways, bin collections and a host of other things your Conservative councillors have been there helping their residents to solve problems.

“The last thing this council needs (after a pretty shambolic first year) is that nobody questions or challenges decisions that are made. The Scrutiny meetings at the council need strong and effective voices to improve proposals or seek better outcomes for residents.

“These elections are crucial and whilst national politics will undoubtedly play a factor, I would ask that the good residents of Swindon remember that council elections are about local services and getting value for money from your council tax.”

Leader of the Labour administration Councillor Jim Robbins also wants to get out the vote: “I’m really looking forward to the local elections and will be asking local residents to support Labour as we look to drive forward our plans to be a more responsive council and to deliver on the demands of the people of Swindon.

“I hope that people will consider who they want on the council to represent their views and to fight for their local area.

“The council could change hands again, but we will be knocking on doors to ask for people’s votes for us to deliver our three key missions and help us to keep building a better Swindon.

“And don’t forget your ID!”