Local councils provide services and facilities in your area.

The type of council you have and their responsibilities depends on where you live.

Local councillors oversee the work of the council, and set the strategies and priorities. When you vote in local elections, you vote for councillors to represent your ward.

Who can vote in these elections

If you are eligible to vote, you can vote in local council elections when they’re happening in your area.

Check if you’re eligible to vote

Types of councils

In the UK, there are different types of councils which are responsible for providing different services and facilities.

In some areas, there may be more than one council providing your services and facilities.

Types of councils

Voting in these elections

The UK Government has postponed the elections scheduled for 7 May 2020 due to the current and emerging situation around COVID-19. Read our statement

Voting in these elections

Local council elections in England and Wales use the first-past-the-post system. The ballot paper will list the candidates for your area. You can you can only vote for one candidate, by putting a cross [X] in the box next to your choice.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, local council elections use the single transferable vote system. The ballot paper will list the candidates for your area, and you use numbers to rank the candidates in order of preference .

Each councillor sits for a four year term.

When the four year term starts and ends for each councillor will depend on the voting system the council is using.

This means that you may not vote for all of the councillors representing you at the same election.


Voting by thirds

If your council votes by thirds, a third of councillors are elected every year over a four year period. There are no elections in the fourth year.


Voting by halves

If your council votes by halves, half of the councillors are elected every two years.


Voting every four years

Some councils, including all of the London boroughs, have local elections every four years, and elect all councillors at the same time.

Last updated: 6 April 2020
Next review: 11 September 2020