What are Local Elections?
In local government elections you are voting for between one and three councillors to represent your ‘ward’ (local neighbourhood/area) on the local council. There are a few different types of council in England (County, District, Borough etc.) You can learn more about the differences here.
There are 388 local councils in England and about 20,000 councillors. These Councillors will get a say on some important things in your community including; transport, recycling/waste, roads, planning, local green spaces and council run facilities (such as sport centers, libraries etc).
Why vote in the Local Elections?
What are local councils responsible for?
Many large towns and cities and some counties have just one level of local government responsible for all local services: the unitary authority. There are five types of local authority in England. These are:
- County councils – cover the whole county
- District councils – can be called district, borough or city councils;
- Unitary authorities – can be called a council (e.g. Medway Council), a city council (e.g. Nottingham City Council) or borough council (e.g. Reading Borough Council);
- London boroughs – each of the 33 boroughs is a unitary authority, but the Greater London Authority (GLA) provides London-wide government, including special responsibility for police, fire, strategic planning and transport
- Metropolitan districts – effectively unitary authorities, the name being a relic from past organisational arrangements. They can be called metropolitan borough or city councils.
There are also Parish and Town councils too!
Who should I vote for?
It is completely up to you who you vote for. If you don’t know where to start you can take a look at our quick summaries of the major political parties (here), but we recommend you take a look at each of the candidates individually – just take a look at some of the leaflets that come through your door ahead of election day.
Don’t forget about minor parties and independent candidates! Although we have focused on the major political parties in the UK there are many candidates that represent smaller parties or even stand independently. It is always important to look into these candidates’ policies too.
Remember, a candidate’s political party isn’t always a solid indicator of their views. Most political parties have a broad spectrum of members within them so it is often worth working out where in the party your candidate stands.
Knowing a little more about what councillors do might also help you decide who would be best to do the job. You can read a little more about what councillors do here.
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.
How can I get involved?
Voting on election day is not the only way to get involved in the local elections. There are plenty of things you can do to get involved in the democratic process!
Political parties are always encouraging their supporters and members to help campaign throughout the year, and especially at election time. Campaigning often involves delivering leaflets, talking to voters, and helping to spread the party’s message in the local area.
You can get involved by contacting the party, or their local branch. Often if you’re a member you’ll receive emails about getting involved too.
Really scary in the beginning but once you get into it, it's great fun and it feels like you're doing something worthy— Lauren E. White (@lxurenwhite) October 12, 2017
Campaigning is a vital part of elections, it connects ordinary voters with the political parties, plus being involved is usually pretty fun and is a great way to meet new people with similar ideas and outlooks!