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Summary

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.

Types of councils

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 vote for as many candidates as there are councillor vacancies, by putting a cross [X] in the box next to your choice. For example, if you are represented by three councillors and there are three vacancies, you can vote for three candidates. The ballot paper will explain how many candidates you can vote for.

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: 14 April 2021
Next review: 15 February 2022

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