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

More than 500 councillors are due to be elected to county councils in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Suffolk on Thursday 6 May.

County councils across the Anglia region are responsible for spending billions of pounds of taxpayers money each year on local services like education, social care, transport, libraries, trading standards, waste management and in many cases the local fire service.

County council elections are held every four years with the last set in May 2017.

Northamptonshire County Council and all seven district councils in the county are being disbanded this year and being replaced by two new unitary councils - in North and West Northamptonshire.

All the county councils in the Anglia region have an overall majority of Conservative councillors.

Of the 430 county councillors elected in the area in 2017, 293 of them were Conservative with 62 Labour and 58 Liberal Democrats.

The Green Party had four elected councillors with 13 Independents across the area. UKIP lost all 48 of their county council seats in 2017.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a backlog of local elections with dozens of council contests and the Police & Crime Commissioner elections postponed from 2020 along with a clutch of by-elections where councillors have retired, resigned or passed away.

All these elections will be held on Thursday 6 May under many Covid restrictions which will affect campaigning, voting and the results process.

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. A greater number are expected to apply for a postal vote.


BEDFORDSHIRE

There is no county council in Bedfordshire. The three unitary authorities in the county - Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton - do not have widespread elections although there will be two by-elections for Luton Borough Council.

There is an election for the Police & Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire.


CAMBRIDGESHIRE

Cambridgeshire County Council currently has a Conservative administration with an overall majority of eight seats.

There are a total of 61 councillors facing election on Thursday 6 May.

At the last election in May 2017, the Conservatives won 36 of the 61 seats with an overall vote share of 40%. The Liberal Democrats won 30% of the votes and took 15 seats.

Labour won seven seats and there were three Independent candidates elected.

Based on the 2017 results, the most vulnerable Conservative electoral division is Cottenham & Willingham where the Liberal Democrats were behind by just two votes.

Labour were ahead of an Independent candidate in Castle division in Cambridge by just 27 votes. The Liberal Democrats won Gamlingay by just 57 votes ahead of the Conservatives.

The interactive map shows the party winner in each Cambridgeshire County Council electoral ward in 2017 and the percentage majority


ESSEX

Essex County Council currently has a Conservative administration with an overall majority of 30 seats.

There are a total of 75 councillors facing election on Thursday 6 May.

At the last election in May 2017, the Conservatives won 56 of the 75 seats with an overall vote share of 49%. Labour won 16% of the votes and took 6 seats.

The Liberal Democrats won seven seats with Witham Northern division going to the Green Party. There were five seats for Independents and others.

At the last election, the most marginal divisions were in Basildon. The Conservatives and Labour shared the two seats in Pitsea with just 49 votes separating the two parties. Labour would have needed 202 more votes to take both seats.

There were only 42 votes between the two parties in Laindon Park & Fryerns with the two seat once again being shared between the Conservatives and Labour.

The interactive map shows the party winner in each Essex County Council electoral division in 2017 and the percentage majority


HERTFORDSHIRE

Hertfordshire County Council currently has a Conservative administration with an overall majority of 20 seats.

There are a total of 78 councillors facing election on Thursday 6 May.

At the last election in May 2017, the Conservatives won 51 of the 78 seats in Hertfordshire with an overall vote share of 46%. The Liberal Democrat won 25% of the votes and took 18 seats.

Labour won the remaining nine seats with a 21% share of the vote. The Green Party contested 65 divisions taking 4% of the votes but failed to win any seats - their highest vote share was in St Albans Central with 11%.

The closest contest in 2017 was in Old Stevenage where Labour were ahead of the Conservatives by just 15 votes. The Liberal Democrats beat the Conservatives by 62 votes in Royston West & Rural and were ahead of Labour by 71 votes in St Albans North.

The interactive map shows the party winner in each Hertfordshire County Council electoral division in 2017 and the percentage majority


NORFOLK

Norfolk County Council currently has a Conservative administration with an overall majority of 23 seats.

There are a total of 83 councillors facing election on Thursday 6 May.

At the last election in May 2017, the Conservatives won 55 of the 84 seats in the Norfolk County Council chamber with an overall vote share of 49%. Labour won 23% of the votes and took 17 seats, chiefly in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn and Thetford.

The Liberal Democrats won 11 seats, mainly in North Norfolk, with a 17% share of the vote. There was one Independent win in Clenchwarton & King's Lynn South. UKIP and Greens lost all their seats on the council despite getting 6% and 4% of the votes respectively.

The closest contest in Norfolk at the last election was in Yarmouth North & Central where Labour beat the Conservatives by 35 votes.

The Conservatives snatched Smallburgh from the Liberal Democrat by 56 votes but the Lib Dem beat the Tories in Mundesley by 65 votes

The interactive map shows the party winner in each Norfolk County Council electoral division in 2017 and the percentage majority


NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

In Northamptonshire, the County Council effectively went bankrupt in 2018 and had to be bailed out by the government.

As a consequence, the County Council and all seven of the district councils in Northamptonshire are being replaced by two new unitary authorities.

Previously the running of local services in the county were split between the county and the district councils with districts running things like housing, recycling and rubbish collection, planning applications and collecting the Council Tax. In future, all services in Northamptonshire will be run by two new councils:

  • North Northamptonshire - Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough

  • West Northamptonshire - Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire

There will be 78 councillors elected in North Northamptonshire with three each representing the 26 existing county council electoral areas.

In West Northamptonshire, there will be 93 councillors for the 31 electoral divisions.


SUFFOLK

Suffolk County Council currently has a Conservative administration with an overall majority of 24 seats.

There are a total of 75 councillors facing election on Thursday 6 May.

At the last election in May 2017, the Conservatives won 52 of the 75 seats in Suffolk with an overall vote share of 45%. Labour won 20% of the votes and took 11 seats mainly in Ipswich.

The Liberal Democrats won 5 seats with a 14% share of the vote. Four Independent councillors won seats and there were three Green Party wins making it the biggest Green group on any county council in the Anglia region. The party took 8% of the overall vote share in Suffolk.

The smallest majority in Suffolk at the 2017 election was in the Ipswich division of Gainsborough where Labour pipped the Conservatives by just three votes. Elsewhere in Ipswich the Conservative and Labour shared the two seats in Whitehouse & Whitton with just 36 votes between them.

The Conservatives and Greens took the two seat in Beccles with just 52 votes between the parties. The Tories would have held both seats with 158 more votes.

The Liberal Democrat most marginal seat in Suffolk is Gipping Valley, which they retained by 30 votes in 2017. There are 10 divisions in Suffolk were the winning party was ahead by less than 100 votes at the last election.

The interactive map shows the party winner in each Suffolk County Council electoral division in 2017 and the percentage majority