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2024 local and mayoral elections: 100 days until voters head to polls

There are just 100 days to go until voters across England and Wales head to the polls on Thursday May 2 to choose new councillors, mayors and police commissioners (Rui Vieira/PA).
There are just 100 days to go until voters across England and Wales head to the polls on Thursday May 2 to choose new councillors, mayors and police commissioners (Rui Vieira/PA).

There are just 100 days to go until voters across England and Wales head to the polls on Thursday May 2 to choose new councillors, mayors and police commissioners.

It is likely to be the last big electoral test for all the political parties before the general election, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated will be in the second half of the year.

There will be at least one poll in every area of the two nations, with some voters getting to cast a ballot in different types of elections.

Rishi Sunak visits Hampshire
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated the general election will be held in the second half of 2024 (Dan Kitwood/PA)

More than 2,500 council seats will be up for grabs in just over 100 local authorities in England, while police and crime commissioners will be elected in all parts of England and Wales except London, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

Voters in those three areas will get to choose their next region-wide mayor, as will those living in other large areas of England such as the West Midlands, while there will be contests for a trio of brand new mayoral posts in the East Midlands, the North East and North Yorkshire.

No elections are scheduled to take place in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

All voters will need to show a form of photographic identification at their polling station in order to cast a ballot, such as a passport, driving licence or blue badge.

Anyone without an acceptable form of ID will be able to apply to their local council for a special certificate.

Here is a breakdown of the polls happening on May 2 and where they are taking place.

– Local council elections

A total of 107 local authorities in England are holding elections.

There will be contests in 31 Metropolitan boroughs, including some of the country’s largest cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, though there are no local elections this year in Birmingham or London.

Polls will take place in 18 unitary authorities, ranging from Hartlepool and Warrington in northern England to Dorset and Thurrock in the south.

And seats will be up for grabs on 58 district councils, covering a mix of urban and rural areas right across England.

(PA Graphics)

Local elections typically reflect voters’ attitudes about neighbourhood concerns, such as when bins are collected, the state of parks and pavements, or access to libraries and hospitals.

But they can also be a verdict on the main political parties and their handling of big issues – which this year is likely to mean the cost of living, the NHS and the environment.

Many of the seats up for grabs were last contested in 2021, a year in which the Conservatives did particularly well in local elections.

Of those councils holding polls on May 2, the Tories currently control fewer than Labour, which means there could be only a handful of instances of an authority changing hands.

Councils to watch include Adur in West Sussex, Dorset, Gloucester, Redditch in Worcestershire, Rushmoor in Hampshire and Thurrock in Essex – all of which will see the Tories defending a small overall majority.

– Regional and local mayors

A record number of regional mayors are up for election this year, including three posts that are being contested for the first time.

Some of the most high-profile politicians in the country are seeking another term in office.

Running for a third term as mayor are Labour’s Sadiq Khan in London, Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram in the Liverpool City Region.

For the Conservatives, Andy Street is running for a third term as mayor of the West Midlands, as is Ben Houchen for the Tees Valley.

Labour’s Tracy Brabin is running for a second term as mayor in West Yorkshire.

Three areas will be choosing a directly-elected mayor for the first time.

Voters in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland will be choosing a new regional mayor for North East England.

In Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, voters will elect the first ever East Midlands mayor – though the role will cover only these two counties, as the rest of the region, Lincolnshire, Leicester, Northamptonshire and Rutland, has declined to join the new combined authority.

Voters in York and North Yorkshire will choose their first directly-elected regional mayor.

POLITICS Elections
(PA Graphics)

In addition to the nine regional mayoral elections on May 2, a contest will also take place to choose the next directly-elected mayor of Salford.

All of these mayoral contests will be held using the first-past-the-post system of elections, where whoever gets the most number of votes is the winner.

This is a change from previous mayoral contests, which used the supplementary vote system, where voters ranked two of the candidates in order of preference.

Under this system, if no candidate received an absolute majority of first-preference votes, the top two candidates went through to a second round of counting and the other candidates were eliminated.

In the next round, the second-preference votes of those who supported the eliminated candidates were redistributed to the top two candidates, until one of them had a majority.

The switch in voting systems is due to a change in the law, which was introduced by the Government in 2022.

The first-past-the-post system could mean there are close results in some of the mayoral contests, particularly where a large number of candidates are standing and support is split, as it may increase the chances of someone winning the election on a low share of the vote.

– Police and crime commissioners

Voters across most of England, along with the whole of Wales, will be able to elect a new police and crime commissioner (PCC) to oversee their force.

The three areas in England where these contests will not take place are London, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire, where the powers of a commissioner are held by the directly-elected mayor.

A total of 39 PCCs will be chosen, 35 in England and four in Wales.

Commissioners have the ultimate responsibility for policing in each police area and were first elected in 2012.

At the last PCC elections in 2021, the Conservatives won 30 of the 39 areas – the party’s best ever performance in this set of contests.

Labour won eight areas – its worst performance since PCCs were introduced – while Plaid Cymru won one (Dyfed-Powys).

As with the elections for regional mayors, 2024 will be the first time that PCCs are elected using the first-past-the-post system, rather than the supplementary vote.

The change in voting systems could deliver some surprise outcomes as well as making some of the results harder to predict, particularly in areas where several parties are standing and there is no clear front-runner, or where there is strong support for independent candidates.