What you need to know about the local elections in the Anglia region in May 2021

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Election Editor David Hughes

With elections suspended for over a year because of the Covid pandemic, the largest and most complex set of local votes are due to take place on Thursday 6 May.

In what has become known as 'Super Thursday', voters across the Anglia region will be choosing almost 1,000 local councillors, Police & Crime Commissioners and an elected metro mayor in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

There had been calls to delay the elections until most of coronavirus restrictions had been lifted but the government has decided to go ahead with voting on the usual on the first Thursday in May. Special measures will be put in place at polling stations and candidates will need to maintain social distancing during the election campaign.

Not only will the normal scheduled elections take place on that day but there will be last year's delayed elections being held and a whole clutch of by-elections where councillors have retired, resigned or passed away.

In some areas, voters could be faced with up to seven different ballots papers with additional elections for parish councils or local planning referendums.

On 1 April, the historic county of Northamptonshire along with its seven districts is being dismantled to form two new 'super' councils. North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire will be unitary councils running all the local services in their area rather than being split between county and district local authorities.

Interactive map of the local elections being held in the Anglia region in May 2021

Ailsa Ivrine of the Electoral Commission said she expects the focus of political campaigning will alter because of the pandemic.

"What we can expect to see at this election is even more increased use of social media and digital campaigning.

"Something we have seen happening over recent years in any case but I think we can expect to see more in the current health context and indeed that's been happening in elections across the world in the pandemic."

Local councils elections

A third of councillors are up for elections on 17 councils in the Anglia region after the polls scheduled for May 2020 were postponed because of the pandemic.

Cambridge City Council would normally elect a third of its councillors but is having an all-out election after boundary changes.

The councils with scheduled elections are: Basildon, Brentwood, Cambridge, Castle Point, Colchester, Epping Forest, Harlow, Ipswich, Milton Keynes, North Hertfordshire, Norwich, Peterborough, Rochford, St Albans, Southend, Stevenage, Thurrock and Welwyn Hatfield.

There are by-elections in a number of other council areas

The councils with "No overall control" are where no one party has an overall majority to out-vote all the other parties but the councils are often run by a minority administration or with formal or informal coalitions

The Electoral Commission has produced a video of what to expect in polling stations in this May's local elections

County councils

All the county councils in the Anglia region have elections for all their councillors. The elections are held every four years and were already scheduled for May 2021. The last county council elections were in June 2017.

All the county councils in the region are currently controlled by Conservative administrations.

  • Cambridgeshire - 61 councillors

  • Essex - 75 councillors

  • Hertfordshire - 78 councillors

  • Norfolk - 84 councillors

  • Suffolk - 75 councillors

In Northamptonshire there are elections to two new unitary council in the North and the West of the county. These will replace Northamptonshire County Council and all seven district councils.

North Northamptonshire is made up of the districts of Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.

The new council will have 78 councillors with three each in the current 26 county council electoral divisions.

West Northamptonshire is made up of the districts of Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire.

The new council will have 93 councillors with three each in the current 31 county council electoral divisions.

Interactive map of Northamptonshire showing which areas are in the new North and West councils along with the party winners at the last election in 2017

Police and Crime Commissioners

Police and Crime Commissioners usually serve a four-year term before seeking re-election but because of the pandemic it was extended to five years. The new PCC will serve a three-year term so the election cycle can return to normal.

In some areas there are Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners who also have the county fire brigade as part of their brief.

  • Bedfordshire

  • Cambridgeshire

  • Essex - including fire service

  • Hertfordshire

  • Norfolk

  • Northamptonshire - including fire service

  • Suffolk

  • Thames Valley

There will special measures in place during the election to reduce the risk of infection during the coronavirus outbreak.

Trevor Holden is an election administrator in Norfolk who will be organising the complex Police & Crime Commission election count for the county.

He said polling stations will look and feel slightly different: "It will probably feel more like going into the supermarket or going into the bank.

"There will be signs everywhere saying that if you've got symptoms of Covid, please don't come in. There will be signs that say 'please use hand sanitiser, please wear a mask'."

It is expected that more people will apply for postal votes although polling stations will be open as normal on Thursday 6 May.

At polling stations, voters will need to wear face coverings and social distance measures will be in place along with hand sanitisers. They will be asked to bring their own pens or pencils to mark ballot papers.

You need to be registered to vote before you can taken part in any election. If you are not registered because, for instance, you have moved recently you can register at this government website or with your local council.

You can also apply for someone you trust to vote on your behalf by proxy. You have to apply for a proxy vote by Tuesday 20 April but because of the pandemic there will be emergency measures for people tested positive or forced to self-isolate. In that circumstance, an emergency proxy can be appointed up to 5pm on polling day.

Polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday 6 May

Although the checking or verification of the votes will begin immediately after polling stations close, it is expected it will take several days before all the results are known.