A number of elections are coming up in May 2021, with multiple chances to make your voice heard depending on where you live.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, elections that were due to take place in the UK in May 2020 were postponed and are now taking place this May instead. Elections taking place on 6 May 2021 include;
- Local Council Elections in England
- Local and Combined Authority Mayoral elections
- Mayor of London and London Assembly elections
- Police and Crime Commissioner elections
- Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru election
- Scottish Parliamentary election
- Hartlepool Parliamentary Constituency by-election
In order to take part in the elections, you’ll need to have registered to vote by 11.59 pm on 19 April. The quickest way to register to vote is online – it takes around 5 minutes and you can register at gov.uk/register-to-vote
You can find out which elections are taking place in your area on the Electoral Commission’s website.
Local Council Elections
Local councils are a key part of local government in England. Councils have responsibilities on a range of local services, from roads, housing and public transport to libraries, recycling and business support.
Councils are made up of councillors, which are elected for 4-year terms by members of the local community to represent its views. The election of councillors is often staggered, so there might not be elections in your area this year.
There are different levels of local government including district councils and county councils, each with different responsibilities. Most councillors are not paid a salary but do get a basic allowance for the work which they do.
Some parts of the country have city-region mayors – most notably, London. Other areas with mayors include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the West of England. This year, a metro mayor of West Yorkshire will also be elected for the first time.
Metro mayors have significant powers and funding to make strategic decisions across the region in which they serve. Each metro mayor will chair a cabinet of the leaders of councils in their area and they will work on managing issues such as transport, business, housing and skills.
Metro mayors are part of the system of devolution in England. The idea is that local leaders will be able to improve life for the people in the areas they serve.
In London, as well as there being a Mayor, there is also the London Assembly which holds the Mayor to account and makes sure their policies are in the public interest.
Police and Crime Commissioner Elections
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have the role of being the voice of the people and holding the police to account. PCCs are elected in each police force area in England and Wales, apart from in Greater Manchester and London where PCC responsibilities are held by the Mayor.
PCCs are not police officers and they do not manage day-to-day policing. Instead, they appoint and hold Chief Constables and the force to account. They have the role of aiming to cut crime and deliver an effective police service in their area, they set force budgets, and they set police and crime objectives.
Welsh and Scottish Parliamentary elections
Both Wales and Scotland have their own Parliament with significant powers to pass laws in their respective nation on issues such as health, tourism, education and more. Some issues are reserved by the UK Parliament – for example, the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments generally cannot set laws on matters relating to foreign policy.
The elections to the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments lead to the creation of Governments in the respective nations. Currently, the First Minister of Wales is Mark Drakeford of the Labour Party, while the First Minister of Scotland is Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party.
Hartlepool Parliamentary Constituency by-election
A by-election is an election that takes place to fill a parliamentary seat that has become vacant between the normal dates for elections. On 16 March 2021, Mike Hil resigned as the MP for Hartlepool with immediate effect, triggering the by-election.
Labour has won every election in the constituency since the seat was first contested in 1974. 10 candidates from different parties (and one independent candidate) have announced their intention to run for election.
Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll be publishing a range of explainers and other content about the elections, including summaries of key policies of major political parties, explainers on what councillors do and why you should cast your vote. For the latest, follow us on social media @speakerpolitics.
Find out more about voting and other ways to get involved in politics in Inspiring Education.