2021 United Kingdom local elections

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2021 United Kingdom local elections
← 2019 6 May 2021 2022 →

151 councils
13 directly elected mayors
40 police and crime commissioners in England and Wales

Local elections in the United Kingdom are expected to be held on 6 May 2021 in English local councils and for thirteen directly elected mayors in England[1] and 40 police and crime commissioners in England and Wales.[2] There are also elections in the parliaments and assemblies of Scotland, Wales and London, the last in conjunction with the London mayoral election.

In March 2020 the government announced that the elections originally scheduled for 7 May 2020 would be delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. They are now expected to be held at the same time as the elections previously scheduled for 2021.[3]

The seats up for election are those last contested in 2016 and/or 2017. New unitary authorities to replace the county and district councils in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire are due to hold their inaugural elections this year.

Background[edit]

The local elections in May 2019 across a majority of councils in England saw the ruling Conservative Party suffer significant losses to the Liberal Democrats, who regained councils they lost to the Conservatives in 2015. The Labour Party, despite making some gains, had a net loss of over eighty seats in areas that had traditionally voted for them, particularly to independent candidates. Local elections also took place at the same time in Northern Ireland, which saw a rise in the Alliance Party's representation across the region. At the 2019 European Parliament election, a few weeks later, the Conservatives had their lowest share of the vote in a nation-wide election in their history, with the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats coming first and second, respectively.

On 12 December 2019, the UK held a snap general election that led to the Conservative party winning a majority of eighty in the House of Commons, while the Labour Party achieved their worst share of the seats since the 1935 general election.[4] Following the election result, the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn announced he would be stepping down from his position, though remain an MP.[5] The result of the leadership and deputy leadership were unveiled on 4 April: Keir Starmer was elected leader of the party with Angela Rayner as deputy.[6] The Liberal Democrats also held a leadership election after Jo Swinson lost her seat in the general election;[7] in the interim the party's Deputy Leader Ed Davey and party President Mark Pack acted as co-leaders, and in August Davey was elected as Leader.[8]

Structural changes to local government in England will see a change in local authorities that will merge some district and county councils into unitary authorities, which means more power will be consolidated. Northanmptonshire with become two - West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire- and Buckinghamshire Council- except for Milton Keynes- will be one. In addition, new combined authorities (institutions which cover two or more local authorities) are being created, with the electorate of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority electing their mayor in this election.

Postponement to 2021[edit]

From December 2019 a pandemic of a new strand of coronavirus began in mainland China and spread across the world from February 2020. On 1 March Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a warning that "all options" were being considered for handle the quarantine in the UK if the virus spread further, including delaying the local elections, for the first time since the 2001 elections which were delayed by a month due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak.[9] On 12 March, the Association of Electoral Administrators asked the government to consider postponing the elections should the situation in the UK get worse coming close to May.[10] The same day, the Electoral Commission recommended that the elections be delayed till the autumn.[11]

A day later, Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to postpone the 2020 UK local elections until May 2021.[3][12] This decision was legislated for in the Coronavirus Act 2020, which was enacted on 25 March.[13] The bill gave the government the power to postpone any elections, such as by-elections.[14] To preserve the four-year electoral cycle, those elected in 2021 will serve three-year terms.[15]

Voters and voting systems[edit]

In England, all residents of the areas covered that are 18 years or over and are a British or Irish citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the European Union would have been eligible to vote.[16] A resident can be registered to vote in two different local authorities, such as a student, they may vote in both.[17] In Wales, all residents that are 16 years or over and are registered to vote, regardless of citizenship, will be eligible to vote.[18]

Because this wave of local elections incorporates different positions, voters will use different voting systems to elect politicians. Councillors will be elected using First Past The Post, meaning that the councillor with the most votes in a ward is elected.[17] Councils having "all-up" elections will have block voting, where voters have a vote for each seat the ward represents and the top councillors are elected. All mayors of England and Police and Crime Commissioners of England and Wales are elected using the supplementary vote system, which means voters select a first and second choice when they vote. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, all except for the top two are eliminated. If your first choice candidate is eliminated, and your second choice is for one of the top two, then your second choice is counted.[19][20]

The Welsh and Scottish parliaments uses the Additional member system, or AMS. This means voters vote once in single member constituency and once for party representation in the electoral region they are in.[21] London uses two election systems, the Mayor of London is elected using the supplementary vote system, the London Assembly uses the AMS.[19]

England[edit]

On 13 March 2020, the Government announced that the 2020 elections would be postponed until 2021 in response to growing concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.[22][23]

County councils[edit]

County councils are elected in full every four years, with the last election having been in 2017. County councils are the upper part of a two-tier system of local government, with the area each covers subdivided into district councils with different responsibilities. These are first-past-the-post elections with a mixture of single-member and multi-member electoral divisions.

There were previously twenty-six county councils, but there will only be twenty-four by the time of the election. Buckinghamshire County Council was replaced with a unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council, on 1 April 2020.[24] Northamptonshire County Council "declared itself effectively bankrupt" in February 2018[25] and two new unitary authorities, North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire, are due to replace it on 1 April 2021.[26]

Council Seats Original year Previous control Result Details
Cambridgeshire 61 2021 Conservative Details
Cumbria 84 2021 No overall control (Labour and Lib Dem coalition) Details
Derbyshire 64 2021 Conservative Details
Devon 60 2021 Conservative Details
East Sussex 50 2021 Conservative Details
Essex 75 2021 Conservative Details
Gloucestershire 53 2021 Conservative Details
Hampshire 78 2021 Conservative Details
Hertfordshire 78 2021 Conservative Details
Kent 81 2021 Conservative Details
Lancashire 81 2021 Conservative Details
Leicestershire 55 2021 Conservative Details
Lincolnshire 70 2021 Conservative Details
Norfolk 84[a] 2021 Conservative Details
North Yorkshire 72 2021 Conservative Details
Nottinghamshire 66 2021 No overall control (Conservative and Mansfield Independent Forum coalition) Details
Oxfordshire 63 2021 No overall control (Conservative and independent coalition) Details
Somerset 55 2021 Conservative Details
Staffordshire 62 2021 Conservative Details
Suffolk 75[a] 2021 Conservative Details
Surrey 81 2021 Conservative Details
Warwickshire 57 2021 Conservative Details
West Sussex 70 2021 Conservative Details
Worcestershire 57 2021 Conservative Details
All 24 councils 1,634[b]
  1. ^ a b The number of councillors may change due to an ongoing boundary review
  2. ^ The total number of seats may change due to boundary reviews in Norfolk and Suffolk

Metropolitan boroughs[edit]

There are thirty-six metropolitan boroughs, which are single-tier local authorities. Thirty-three of them elect a third of their councillors every year for three years, with no election in each fourth year. These councils hold their elections on the same timetable, and were due to hold an election in 2020 but not in 2021. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the May 2020 elections were postponed to May 2021. The remaining three metropolitan boroughs elect their councillors in full every four years. Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council was due to hold an election for all councillors in May 2020, but this was postponed to 2021. Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council was due to elect their councillors in 2021. Birmingham City Council holds its elections on a four-year cycle from 2018, so is not due to hold an election until 2022.

Due to boundary changes, Salford City Council is also to elect all of its councillors in 2021, before returning to the thirds schedule. The remaining thirty-two metropolitan borough councils that elect their councillors in thirds will do so as usual at this election.

Elections for all councillors[edit]

Council Seats Original year Previous control Result Details
Doncaster 55 2021 Labour Details
Rotherham 63 2020 Labour Details
Salford 60 2020 Labour Details
All three councils 178

Elections for one third of councillors[edit]

Council Seats Original year Previous control Result Details
up of
Barnsley 21 63 2020 Labour Details
Bolton 20 60 2020 No overall control (Conservative minority) Details
Bradford 30 90 2020 Labour Details
Bury 17 51 2020 Labour Details
Calderdale 17 51 2020 Labour Details
Coventry 18 54 2020 Labour Details
Dudley 24 72 2020 No overall control (Conservative minority) Details
Gateshead 22 66 2020 Labour Details
Kirklees 23 69 2020 Labour Details
Knowsley 15 45 2020 Labour Details
Leeds 33 99 2020 Labour Details
Liverpool 30 90 2020 Labour Details
Manchester 32 96 2020 Labour Details
Newcastle upon Tyne 26 78 2020 Labour Details
North Tyneside 20 60 2020 Labour Details
Oldham 20 60 2020 Labour Details
Rochdale 20 60 2020 Labour Details
Sandwell 24 72 2020 Labour Details
Sefton 22 66 2020 Labour Details
Sheffield 28 84 2020 Labour Details
Solihull 17 51 2020 Conservative Details
South Tyneside 18 54 2020 Labour Details
St Helens 16 48 2020 Labour Details
Stockport 21 63 2020 No overall control (Labour minority) Details
Sunderland 25 75 2020 Labour Details
Tameside 19 57 2020 Labour Details
Trafford 21 63 2020 Labour Details
Wakefield 21 63 2020 Labour Details
Walsall 20 60 2020 Conservative Details
Wigan 25 75 2020 Labour Details
Wirral 22 66 2020 No overall control (Labour minority) Details
Wolverhampton 20 60 2020 Labour Details
All 32 councils 729 2,187

Unitary authorities[edit]

There were previously fifty-five unitary authorities, but three more are due to be created by the May elections. Buckinghamshire County Council was replaced with a unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council, on 1 April 2020;[27] the first election to the new unitary authority was scheduled for May 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic was rescheduled for May 2021. Subsequent elections are due to be held every four years from 2025.[24] Northamptonshire County Council is due to be replaced with two unitary authorities, North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire on 1 April 2021.[28] The first elections to the shadow authorities (temporary council structures before the council formally begins) were planned to be held in May 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic have been rescheduled to May 2021. Subsequent elections will be held every four years from 2025.[26]

Of the resulting fifty-eight unitary authorities, thirty elect all their councillors every four years on the cycle from 2019, so are not due to hold elections until 2023. Six elect their councillors every four years and were originally planning to elect in 2021. The three new unitary authorities were scheduled to hold their elections in 2020 and then every four years from 2025, before the 2020 local elections were postponed to 2021. Two unitary authorities were scheduled to elect all their councillors in 2020 but these have also been postponed to 2021. Seventeen unitary authorities elect a third of their councillors every year for three years including 2020 but not 2021, and these elections have been postponed to 2021. Two of these, Halton and Hartlepool, have had boundary changes that mean they are electing all of their councillors in 2021.[29][30]

Elections for all councillors[edit]

Council Seats Original year Previous control Result Details
Bristol 70 2020 Labour Details
Buckinghamshire[a] 147 2020 New unitary authority Details
Cornwall 87[b] 2021 No overall control (Lib Dem and independent coalition) Details
County Durham 87 2021 Labour Details
Halton 54[b] 2020 Labour Details
Hartlepool 33[b] 2020 No overall control (Conservative and Brexit Party coalition) Details
Isle of Wight 40 2021 Conservative Details
North Northamptonshire[a] 78 2020 New unitary authority Details
Northumberland 67 2021 No overall control (Conservative minority) Details
Shropshire 74 2021 Conservative Details
Warrington 58 2020 Labour Details
West Northamptonshire[a] 93 2020 New unitary authority Details
Wiltshire 98 2021 Conservative Details
All thirteen councils 986

Elections for one third of councillors[edit]

Council Seats Original year Previous control Result Details
up of
Blackburn with Darwen 17 51 2020 Labour Details
Derby 17 51 2020 No overall control (Conservative minority) Details
Hull 19 57 2020 Labour Details
Milton Keynes 19 57 2020 No overall control (Labour minority) Details
North East Lincolnshire 14 42 2020 Conservative Details
Peterborough 22 60 2020 No overall control (Conservative minority) Details
Plymouth 19 57 2020 Labour Details
Portsmouth 14 42 2020 No overall control (Lib Dem minority) Details
Reading 15 46[b] 2020 Labour Details
Slough 14 42 2020 Labour Details
Southampton 16 48 2020 Labour Details
Southend 17 51 2020 No overall control (Labour, independent and Lib Dem coalition) Details
Swindon 19 57 2020 Conservative Details
Thurrock 17 49 2020 No overall control (Conservative minority) Details
Wokingham 18 54 2020 Conservative Details
All fifteen councils 255 764

District councils[edit]

Whole district councils[edit]

Twelve district councils have all of their seats up for election.

Half of councils[edit]

Six non-metropolitan district councils have half of their seats up for election.[31]

Council Previous control Details
Adur Conservative Details
Cheltenham Liberal Democrats Details
Fareham Conservative Details
Gosport Conservative Details
Hastings Labour Details
Nuneaton and Bedworth Labour Details

One-third of district councils[edit]

51 non-metropolitan district councils have one-third of their seats up for election.

London Assembly[edit]

The London Assembly consists of twenty-five elected members and acts as a scrutiny panel to the mayor. Members are elected using the additional member system, which elects members using both constituencies and a London-wide electoral region.

City of London Corporation[edit]

The Court of Common Council is the main decision-making body of the City of London Corporation, which governs the City of London. The 100 councillors are elected across twenty-five wards. The City of London Common Council elections are scheduled to take place on 18 March 2021, seven weeks before the elections in the rest of England.

Council of the Isles of Scilly[edit]

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is the local government authority for the Isles of Scilly. It has sixteen seats, which in the previous 2017 election were all won by independent candidates.

Mayors[edit]

Mayor of London[edit]

The Mayor of London is normally elected for four years, although due to the rescheduling of the 2020 election, the election in 2021 will be for a three-year term. The incumbent mayor Sadiq Khan, who is seeking re-election, will serve a five-year term ending in 2021.

Combined authority mayors[edit]

Seven combined authority mayors are up for election.

Combined authority Original year Previous mayor Elected mayor Details
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 2021 James Palmer (Con) Details
Greater Manchester 2020 Andy Burnham (Lab) Details
Liverpool City Region 2020 Steve Rotheram (Lab) Details
Tees Valley 2020 Ben Houchen (Con) Details
West Midlands 2020 Andy Street (Con) Details
West of England 2021 Tim Bowles (Con) Details
West Yorkshire 2021 Role established Details

Single authority mayors[edit]

Five single authority mayors are up for election.

Local authority Original year Previous Mayor Mayor-elect Details
Bristol 2020 Marvin Rees (Lab) Details
Doncaster 2021 Ros Jones (Lab) Details
Liverpool 2020 Joe Anderson (Lab) Details
North Tyneside 2021 Norma Redfearn (Lab) Details
Salford 2020 Paul Dennett (Lab) Details

Police and crime commissioner elections[edit]

Thirty-six police and crime commissioners in England are up for election; four are police, fire and crime commissioners.

Wales[edit]

Police and crime commissioner elections[edit]

Four police and crime commissioners in Wales are up for election.

Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament[edit]

Elections will take place to elect all members of the Senedd, which changed its name from the National Assembly for Wales in 2020.[18] Voting rights will be extended to foreign nationals that live in Wales, and residents aged 16 or over.[32][18]

Scotland[edit]

Elections will take place to elect all members of the Scottish Parliament.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c New unitary authority
  2. ^ a b c d New election boundaries

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Directly elected mayors". www.local.gov.uk.
  2. ^ "Electoral Commission | Police and Crime Commissioner elections". www.electoralcommission.org.uk.
  3. ^ a b "Local elections postponed for a year over coronavirus". BBC News. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Who will be Labour's next leader?". BBC News. 15 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  5. ^ Mason, Rowena; Pidd, Helen (15 December 2019). "Labour leadership race begins as senior figures back Rebecca Long-Bailey". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Sir Keir Starmer elected as next leader of the Labour Party". Metro. 4 April 2020. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson to step down". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Timetable agreed for Liberal Democrat leadership election". Mark Pack. 18 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ Busby, Mattha (1 March 2020). "Local elections could be delayed by coronavirus outbreak". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  10. ^ Buchan, Lizzy (11 March 2020). "Elections chiefs urge government to consider 'legal basis' for postponing local elections over coronavirus". The Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  11. ^ Duncan, Conrad (12 March 2020). "Electoral Commission recommends May local elections should be cancelled amid coronavirus outbreak". The Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  12. ^ "May's local and mayoral elections postponed for a year due to coronavirus". ITV News. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Coronavirus Act 2020". legislation.gov.uk. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  14. ^ Gyrlls, George. "Five things you really ought to know about the Coronavirus Bill". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  15. ^ Johnston, Neil (24 March 2020). "Coronavirus Bill: Elections" (PDF). House of Commons Library. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Local councils". Electoral Commission (United Kingdom). 1 November 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Types of election, referendums, and who can vote: Local government". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  18. ^ a b c "AMs back new bilingual name for Welsh Assembly". BBC News. 9 October 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Types of election, referendums, and who can vote: Local mayors, Mayor of London and London Assembly". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Types of election, referendums, and who can vote: Police and Crime Commissioner". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Additional Member System". Electoral Reform Society. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Coronavirus: English local elections postponed for a year". BBC News. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  23. ^ "May's local and mayoral elections postponed for a year due to coronavirus". ITV News. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  24. ^ a b "The Buckinghamshire (Structural Changes) Order 2019". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Northamptonshire's bankrupt council given OK for 2% tax hike". the Guardian. 29 January 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  26. ^ a b "The Northamptonshire (Structural Changes) Order 2020". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  27. ^ Jones, Claire (24 May 2019). "New Buckinghamshire Council moves a step closer". Wycombe Today. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Northamptonshire County Council: No local elections for cash-crisis county". BBC News. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  29. ^ "Halton". Local Government Boundary Commission. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  30. ^ "Hartlepool". Local Government Boundary Commission. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  31. ^ "Guide to May 2016 elections in Scotland, Wales, England and London". BBC News. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  32. ^ Mosalski, Ruth (15 January 2020). "Over 16s will vote in the next Assembly election as the Queen says yes". WalesOnline. Retrieved 13 March 2020.

External links[edit]