Voters in Swindon will have a wider choice of candidates than they have had in recent elections when the borough goes to the polls next month.

There are 77 people nominated to stand in 19 wards for 20 seats. And those candidates are drawn from six parties, with one independent candidate as well.

Three parties - Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats - have managed to field a full slate of 20 candidates, with the Green Party (10) standing in half the available seats and the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition standing five candidates and Reform Party just one.

There is also an independent candidate, Vintur Fernandes, who is standing in Central ward.

The state of the council chamber before the election might suggest that the best bet for the party holding power after the election will be Labour – but it is not a certainty.

There are 20 seats available at this election, out of 57 – and those seats which are not up for grabs mean The Labour group will hold a minimum of 27 come May 4, with The Conservatives with nine and the Liberal Democrats one.

Labour therefore needs to hold just two seats at this election to hold the narrowest overall majority of 29. If the Conservatives want to regain the control they lost just last year, they will need to win all 20 seats being contested.

And 20 seats being contested is something of an anomaly. In the normal fashion, 19 seats, precisely a third of the total number, are contested every year for three years.

In this election, there are two seats in Wroughton & Wichelstowe to be filled. The second vacancy has come about owing to his resignation two years into his term of the sitting Conservative councillor Dave Martyn.

The three main parties are each fielding two candidates because  voters will have two votes, and  the two candidates with the highest number of votes will be elected.

The ruling Labour group will be hoping that it can go some way to repeating its excellent performance at the 2023 elections – there are a number of cabinet members who are defending their seat.

The member for finance and strategic planning Councillor Kevin Small is standing for the 10th time in Mannington & Western; and the member for heritage, arts and culture Councillor Marina Strinkovsky is standing in Eastcott.

Councillor Ray Ballman, who holds the cabinet portfolio for adults’ social care vacates her Gorse Hill seat, but will be standing instead in Haydon Wick.

For the Conservatives, the group leader Councillor Gary Sumner is defending Ridgeway. Long-serving Liberal Democrat Stan Pajak, who lost his Eastcott seat in 2021, is standing in Wroughton & Wichelstowe.

The election will be held on Thursday, May 2.