Local elections 2021: how to find out which candidates are running in May Council elections - and how to vote

Thousands of council seats are up for grabs on 6 May after last years local elections were postponed

Local elections 2021: how to find out which candidates are running in May Council elections - and how to vote (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The biggest set of local elections in decades will take place on 6 May this year, with more seats up for grabs than at any time since a major local government restructure in 1973.

Most councils in England and Wales have at least some seats up for re-election, due to last year’s elections being postponed as a result of the pandemic.

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There will also be separate elections taking place for the Welsh and Scottish devolved parliaments, as well as a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool.

Local councils have a number of responsibilities, from social care to planning and rubbish collection.

So how do the elections work, and who are the candidates? This is what you need to know.

Can I vote in the local elections?

If you have previously registered to vote in local or general elections at your current address, you will be eligible to vote in May.

The deadline to register was 19 April, but you can check whether you’re already registered by contacting your local authority - to find out who to contact, enter your postcode on the government's website.

You can vote in person at a polling station on 6 May, or by post if you are registered to do so.

What are the local elections?

Whereas in a general election we vote for MPs to represent parliamentary constituencies, local elections relate to local authorities.

In some parts of the country, local government has a two-tier structure, with a number of smaller district councils sitting under a larger county council, and the responsibilities divided between them.

In other parts of the country, a single unitary authority representing an entire area will be responsible for all the functions of local government.

There are a number of other roles up for election, including single and combined authority mayors, and Police and Crime Commissioners.

Who are the candidates in my area?

To find out which elections you can vote in, or which are taking place in your area, you can go to the Electoral Commission’s website and put in your postcode.

Which councils have seats up for election?

Most councils in England have at least some seats up for grabs in the 2021 local elections, due to the postponement of last year’s elections.

Some areas will elect only a third of councillors, while others will have half the total seats up, and the rest will have all their seats up for election.

Councils with a third of seats up:

Amber Valley

Barnsley

Basildon
Blackburn with Darwen
Bolton
Bradford
Brentwood
Broxbourne
Burnley
Bury
Calderdale
Cambridge
Cannock Chase
Castle Point
Cherwell
Coventry
Crawley
Derby
Eastleigh
Elmbridge
Epping Forest
Exeter
Gateshead
Harlow
Hart
Havant
Hyndburn
Ipswich
Kingston-upon-Hull
Kirklees
Knowsley
Leeds
Lincoln
Liverpool
Maidstone
Manchester
Milton Keynes
Mole Valley
Newcastle
North East Lincolnshire
North Hertfordshire

North Tyneside

Norwich
Oldham
Peterborough
Plymouth
Portsmouth
Preston
Reading
Redditch
Reigate and Banstead
Rochdale
Rochford
Rossendale
Rugby
Runnymede
Rushmoor
Salford
Sandwell
Sefton
Sheffield
Slough
Solihull
South Tyneside
Southampton
Southend-on-Sea
St Albans
St Helens
Stevenage
Stockport
Sunderland
Swindon
Tameside
Tamworth
Tandbridge
Three Rivers
Thurrock
Trafford
Tunbridge Wells
Wakefield
Walsall
Watford
Welwyn Hatfield
West Lancashire
West Oxfordshire
Wigan
Winchester
Wirral
Woking
Wokingham
Wolverhampton
Worcester
Worthing

Councils with half the seats up:

Adur
Cheltenham
Fareham
Gosport

Hastings

Nuneaton and Bedwith

Full councils up for re-election

Basingstoke and Deane
Bristol
Buckinghamshire
Cambridge
Cambridgeshire
Cornwall
Chorley
Derbyshire
Devon
Doncaster
Durham
Essex
Gloucester
Gloucestershire
Hartlepool
Halton
Hampshire
Hertfordshire
Isle of Wight
Kent
Lancashire
Leicestershire
Lincolnshire
North Northamptonshire
Nottinghamshire
Northumberland
Norfolk
Oxford
Oxfordshire
Pendle
Rotherham
Staffordshire
Stroud
Suffolk
Surrey
Shropshire
Warwickshire
West Northamptonshire
West Sussex
Warrington
Wiltshire
Worcestershire

Mayoral elections

Combined authority mayors

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Greater London
Greater Manchester
Liverpool City region

Tees Valley

West Midlands

West of England

West Yorkshire

Single authority mayors

Bristol
Doncaster
Liverpool
North Tyneside
Salford

Police and Crime Commissioner elections

Avon and Somerset
Bedfordshire
Cambridgeshire
Cheshire
Cleveland
Cumbria
Derbyshire
Devon and Cornwall
Dorset

Durham

Dyfed-Powys
Essex
Gloucestershire
Gwent
Hampshire
Hertfordshire
Humberside
Kent
Lancashire
Leicestershire
Lincolnshire
Merseyside
Norfolk
Northamptonshire
Northumbria
North Wales
North Yorkshire
Nottinghamshire
South Wales
South Yorkshire
Staffordshire
Suffolk
Surrey
Sussex
Thames Valley
Warwickshire
West Mercia
West Midlands
Wiltshire