What are local government elections?

In local government elections you are voting for between one and three councillors to represent your ward on the local council. There are 388 local councils in England and about 20,000 councillors.

There are different types of council, in the UK and the type of council you have depends on where you live. Unitary Authorities (usually found in urban areas and in Scotland and Wales) cover all local government functions in their area. Two-tier authorities (usually more rural areas) comprise of counties which are made up of districts. The counties and districts are responsible for different policy areas. You can find out more here.

How are councillors elected?

Local candidates can put themselves forward to be elected for a local council ward. Once all the votes have been counted on election day the candidate who has the highest number of votes will be declared the winner.

However, in large wards the 2nd placed candidate winning a council seat for that ward too, meaning that ward has two people representing it. In some rare cases there can even be three people representing one ward.

All candidates that put themselves forward to stand in a local council election must either live in the council catchment area or have a business premise they own and work from that falls within this catchment area.

Why get involved in local politics?

  • Your local council has an impact on many of the services you see and use every day, including housing, transport and public spaces. Choices made by the council will have visible impacts on your community, make sure that you’ve been part of choosing who makes these decisions.
  • You can vote for candidates who have a similar vision for the future of your community as you do.
  • Local councils set the rates of Council Tax for your area, these rates have a direct impact on your income as well as the services in your area.
  • Councillors represent a much smaller group of people than MPs do, that means your single vote is more likely to make an impact on the result.
Why Vote?

Remember to register to vote.

In order to vote in local elections you need to be registered to vote. If you have already registered to vote for the General Election then there is no need to re-register unless you have changed address.

You can vote in local elections given that you are:

  • a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the European Union
  • resident in the UK
  • not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote

If you would like more information about voting in local elections please visit these websites:

Gov.uk Website About my vote


Find out more about why it is so important to get involved in local politics. Click To Tweet

Decisions made by the council have visible impacts on your community. Learn more:. Click To Tweet

Council responsibilities.

Under the UK’s constitution the responsibilities and powers of local authorities are determined by the central government in Westminster, they include:

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