Local elections 2021
With two years’ worth of elections, it’s going to be #SuperThursday.
Nobody gets more excited about local elections than the team at LGIU. We have been working with local government for over a decade to bring you local elections support, coverage and all the key facts & figures. This year is no different, though of course this year was very different.
As well as elections coverage and analysis on this page:
- See our final Elections Results briefing
- And LGIU resources for new councillors
And follow us @LGIU for our information and support as new councillors take on the role of governance and representing their communities.
What’s at stake?
Of the 145 local authority elections there are:
- 21 county councils
- 59 district councils
- 28 unitary councils
- 35 Metropolitan district councils
- the Greater London Authority
- the Isles of Scilly
In addition there will be eight combined authority mayoral elections, including London, and five single authority mayors:
Combined authority mayors:
|Combined authority||Original year||Incumbent|
|Cambridgeshire and Peterborough||2021||James Palmer(Con)|
|Greater Manchester||2020||Andy Burnham (Lab)|
|Liverpool city region||2020||Steve Rotheram (Lab)|
|Tees Valley||2020||Ben Houchen (Con)|
|West Midlands||2020||Andy Street (Con)|
|West of England||2021||Tim Bowles (Con)|
|West Yorkshire||2021||Role established|
And the London mayor – currently held by Sadiq Khan, Labour.
Five single authority mayors are up for election.
|Local authority||Original year||Incumbent|
|Bristol||2020||Marvin Rees (Lab)|
|Doncaster||2021||Ros Jones (Lab)|
|Liverpool||2020||Joe Anderson (Lab)|
|North Tyneside||2021||Norma Redfearn (Lab)|
|Salford||2020||Paul Dennett (Lab)|
Every single eligible citizen in England is due to be an elector in 2021. All areas are holding Police and Crime commissioner elections, except for Greater Manchester and London where these powers rest with the directly elected mayor. In many areas, electors will be voting on 4 or more different ballots. These may be the most complex elections ever.
This isn’t just about the sheer volume of decision making. It’s about choosing the people who will be deciding on vital services, dealing with social care in crisis, and making the tough choices as councils are struggling through an unprecedented financial crisis after a decade of unprecedented financial cuts. Local government is fundamentally about where people live and voters will be choosing the people who will help lead us through a sustainable economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid crisis.
Local elections results briefing
With the 2020 council elections having been postponed by 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 was a bumper year for local elections. Communities across the country turned out to vote for their councillors on Thursday, representatives who will ultimately shape local recovery. This members only briefing sets out the results of the polls and comments on what this means for local authorities.
Support for new councillors
If you’ve just been elected (or if you’re an old hand) LGIU has you covered with resources and support. Check out our training and development with briefings and primers for new councillors being added in the next days and weeks.
LGIU is partnering with Vuelio to bring you an exclusive weekly elections bulletin covering elections issues covering English local elections, GLA, Mayoral, Scottish and Welsh election issue coverage. See the full list.
Ones to Watch
What’s at stake and where are the hot races in this year’s local elections. Our Ones to Watch 2021 has all the facts.
How election news is made: How is the BBC covering the locals: Jonathan interviews the BBC’s Tim Burke about how elections are covered and what people think about the locals coverage. Listen here.
Making a Safe Election: Kate Grigg of CfGS about combined authority mayors and what she’s expecting from her very first stint volunteering at the polls and Peter Stanyon, Chief Exec of AEA about how this elections are different this year, how they’re the same. Listen here.
Local elections by the numbers
Democracy Club lays out the numbers for this years local elections, candidates, parties and places with 5000 new councillors to be elected on 6 May
Who runs the councils in 'No Overall Control'
What does NOC mean and how does it affect governance in practice? See our run down of councils in NOC.
View from the AEA
Peter Stanyon, Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) explains these most complicated sets of elections will be administered.
Combined authority mayor elections
Kate Grigg of CfGS explains what combined authority mayors do and why we should care about these elections.
Making elections meaningful
In his latest column for the Municipal Journal, Jonathan Carr-West considers the challenges for those coordinating the upcoming local elections and reflects on what’s changed for the public over the past five years.
Personal safety on the campaign trail FREE online training
Watch the event recording.(Passcode: Fr@@PS@1ty ) This programme has been developed for participants who would benefit from the opportunity to reflect on the way they manage their own personal safety.
- Principles of personal safety
- Use of mobile telephones and technology
- Canvassing and home visits
- Trolls and cyber-bullies.
Personal safety for councillors
Our personal safety guide with updated information about canvassing and Covid-19 safety on the campaign trail.
Essential guide to elections communications
Local elections matter and how we talk about them matters. Effective communications can build enthusiasm for local democracy and this communications guide focuses on some easy steps that councils can take during the election period.
Elections issues briefing
The member only briefing to elections issues for English local authorities including legal, data, Covid-safety and role of councillors during the elections period.
UK May 2021 polls delivery plan
This Member-only swift read covers the recent decision and support to carry out the May 2021 local elections safely – including outlines of new guidance and funding.
Will May be a missed chance?
LGIU Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West wrote about the missed chances of updating our elections to make them more engaging and Covid safe in his February Municipal Journal column.
Our response to the May 2021 polls delivery plan
Following today’s announcement from the Cabinet Office that local elections will go ahead as planned on 6 May 2021, we are pleased to hear that a decision has finally been made by the Government. Clarity is the most important thing and the sector has been begging for this.
Running an election during a pandemic
Podcast: Jonathan Carr-West and Ingrid Koehler talk about local elections and our survey. Ingrid speaks to Professor Toby James who has been looking at how places around the world have been running local elections and whether England is ready to run elections in May.
Free, fair and safe? Local elections 2021
The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) reveals that the majority of council officials are overwhelmingly concerned about their ability to hold local elections in May. Our survey of 374 Chief Executives (who are often returning officers), Democratic Services Officers and Council Leaders is the most comprehensive survey of council officials across England on the 2021 Local Elections. Read the full report.
Can we have healthy elections in a pandemic?
This think piece pulls from global lessons and outlines what we need to run healthy elections in the time of coronavirus.
Post-Covid councils: Trust and governance
As part of our Post-Covid councils work stream, we looked at trust, governance and democracy – including a close look at elections and think about how we can learn the lessons of the pandemic to build back better.
“But who’s in control?” Navigating England’s patchy local elections data
In a bumper year for local elections in England, LGIU’s Lucy Zhu reports on their work compiling local elections data for our Ones to Watch guide – never an easy task but, despite the unique challenges of 2021, there are signs of improved transparency.
LGIU and Vuelio elections update – 7 April
In the run-up to #SuperThursday on 6 May, LGIU has partnered with Vuelio to provide you with weekly updates on the Scottish and Welsh national elections, as well as the English local elections.
LGIU and Vuelio elections update – 15 April
In the run-up to #SuperThursday on 6 May, LGIU has partnered with Vuelio to provide you with weekly updates on the Scottish and Welsh national elections, as well as the English local elections. This week’s highlights include updates on the London Mayoral election and the pause in campaigning following the death of Prince Philip, as well as a glance at some of the parties and candidates’ policy proposals.
LGIU and Vuelio elections update – 21 April
In the run-up to #SuperThursday on 6 May, LGIU has partnered with Vuelio to provide you with weekly updates on the Scottish and Welsh national elections, as well as the English local elections. This week we run-through manifesto pledges, polling stations and more of our ‘Ones to Watch’.
LGIU and Vuelio elections update – 28 April
In the run-up to #SuperThursday on 6 May, LGIU has partnered with Vuelio to provide you with weekly updates on the Scottish and Welsh national elections, as well as the English local elections. This week, we explore combined authority mayors and campaign issues and look more at the Scottish manifestos.
LGIU and Vuelio elections update – 5 May
In the run-up to #SuperThursday on 6 May, LGIU has partnered with Vuelio to provide you with weekly updates on the Scottish and Welsh national elections, as well as the English local elections. We look at the final few days of election campaigning, outline which unitary councils to keep an eye on and discuss what’s at stake for governments across England, Scotland and Wales.