All the main political parties face a tough challenge at the ballot box on Thursday 2 May as millions of voters head to the polls in the County Council elections. As ever turnout is likely to be an issue with less than a third of voters bothering to vote in local elections. Although more than 4,000,000 people are eligible to vote in six counties in the Anglia region, it's expected that only around one million will put a cross in a box.
The last time these elections were fought was in 2009 when the Conservatives won control of all the County Councils in the region.
These are the six County Councils with elections in the Anglia region:
- Cambridgeshire - current Conservative overall majority 9
- Essex - current Conservative overall majority 43
- Hertfordshire - current Conservative overall majority 33
- Norfolk - current Conservative overall majority 32
- Northamptonshire - current Conservative overall majority 35
- Suffolk - current Conservative overall majority 35
County Council elections are held every four years and the whole council is elected at once. This is the first time since 1993 that the County Council elections haven't coincided with either a General Election or a European Election which tends to overshadow the local poll.
At the last County Council election in 2009, Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and his brief honeymoon period with the electorate was long-since over. Labour had a torrid time in the Anglia region losing all but 19 of their county councillors. The Conservatives were the big winners taking 46% of the popular vote in the six counties of the Anglia region. The Liberal Democrats were in second place with 24% of the vote.
It was the smaller parties that also did very well four years ago and they're expected to get a similar boost in this election. The Greens increased their share of the vote in 2009 by 3 percentage points while UKIP was up nearly 2 percentage points.
In 2009, the Conservatives won the lion's share of the county council seats with 328 and increase of 54 on the previous election in 2005. The Lib Dems had 85 councillors. Labour lost 76 councillors in the Anglia region.
In 2013 there are more than 2,000 candidates contesting the 437 seats in the six counties. The Conservatives are contesting all the electoral divisions while Labour are standing in almost all areas. The Liberal Democrats have candidates for 86% of the councillors, UKIP have 83% contested with 362 candidates and the Greens have 249 candidates covering 57% of the seats. There are 53 independents standing.
Most of the region has two councils providing services in their area: a county council which looks after things like schools, transport and social services and a district, city or borough council with responsibility for planning, housing and rubbish collection.
In some areas there is a single Unitary council which provide all services - there are no elections in these areas in 2013:
- Central Bedfordshire
- Milton Keynes
Polling stations are opening on Thursday 2 May 2013 from 7am until 10pm.
Counting takes place after the polling stations close in Essex, Northamptonshire and most of Hertfordshire. The results won't be known in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk until Friday afternoon.