Polling stations came in all shapes – including the White Horse Inn in Priors Dean, Hampshire
Counting is under way in local elections in England and Northern Ireland, with disillusionment about Brexit expected to be a big factor.Voting took place for 248 English councils, six mayors and all 11 councils in Northern Ireland.Minister James Cleverly said it would be a “tough night” for the Tories, who expect to lose hundreds of seats.Sunderland City Council was the first authority to declare a result, with Labour holding onto control.Results for 108 English councils are expected before 06:00, with the other 140 results expected throughout Friday.The Northern Irish results will take longer to come in. No local elections are taking place in Scotland and Wales. The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg says there are suggestions the Conservatives could lose up to 800 seats, and on early predictions, the Liberal Democrats could gain as many as 500. Polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice said it may be the smaller parties that see the biggest victories, with early results showing increases for the Green Party and UKIP. “One of the major features of the 2017 general election was that, between them, the Conservatives and Labour dominated the election, winning over 80% of votes – the biggest combined share since 1970,” he said. “On these early signs, we might be saying tonight those days are over. The message of the opinion polls that both the Conservatives and Labour have been losing ground in the Brexit impasse might be confirmed by end of night.”Brexit ‘discontent’Mr Cleverly said he hoped local councillors would be judged on their individual performance, but told BBC News: “It is unrealistic for me to pretend that with nine years in government and Brexit as a backdrop, [it will] be anything other than a tough night for [the Conservative Party].” Labour’s shadow international development secretary Barry Gardiner also told the BBC early results indicated the electorate’s view on Brexit. He said the rise in share for UKIP in Sunderland was not “remarkable” given the “disquiet over Brexit”, and the 5% rise for the Green Party could be Labour voters “registering their discontent on what they see the [party’s] Brexit position being”. The deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, said her party was aiming for triple-figure gains, telling the BBC the “only thing that unites the country” is anger over Brexit.Local elections 2019: Dogs at the pollsThis is the biggest set of local elections in England’s four-year electoral cycle, with more than 8,400 seats being contested. A further 462 seats are up for grabs in Northern Ireland.Voter turnout has yet to be confirmed, but it often varies depending on what other elections are taking place on the same day.Local elections in 2018 saw a turnout of just 36%, but in 2015 – when they coincided with a general election – turnout reached around 64%.
By 06:00 BST results from just under half of the English councils (108) are expected to have come in.The remaining 140 are scheduled to come in throughout Friday, mostly between midday and 19:00 BST. Cheshire East is expected to declare last at 21:00.The Northern Irish results will take longer to come through because of a more complicated voting system.
The first results are in…Analysis by Prof Sir John Curtice, polling expert
The first key results of wards in Sunderland show a 6.5% increase in the UKIP vote, even though the party is defending the relatively high baseline that it enjoyed in 2015. If this pattern continues, then we will get ample confirmation of the rise in support for Eurosceptic parties – as indicated in the opinion polls. However, in Sunderland it is Labour, not the Conservatives, whose vote has fallen sharply – so far by no less than 17 points. Here at least may be an indication that in a very strong Leave Labour voting area that Euroscepticism could well serve to erode Labour’s support. Compared with last year’s local election results, the Conservative vote in Sunderland is also well down, albeit not to the same extent as support for Labour. But this is a city that has had some unusual local voting patterns in the past and we should not get too wrapped up in its results.
Of the 248 elections in England, 168 have been district councils which are in charge of setting and collecting council tax, bin collections, local planning and council housing.There were also elections taking place for 47 unitary authorities and 33 metropolitan boroughs which look after education, public transport, policing and fire services, as well as all the services of district councils.In Northern Ireland, councils are responsible for services including local planning and licensing, waste collection and enforcing safety regulations to do with food, workplaces and the environment.
All day, voters in many parts of England and in Northern Ireland have been casting their ballots, expressing their views on the politicians who had put themselves up for scrutiny, stepping forward for the chance to be part of important decisions about our communities.Each and every area will have its own stories, each of us our own motivations for which box, or none, we tick. What happens in towns, villages and cities, and the decisions made by town halls and councillors has a huge bearing, of course, on these results.Whatever happens in the next 24 hours as the results emerge, bear in mind that the results of these local elections are not a beautifully clear, let alone reliable, crystal ball that will reveal the future. But these contests are an enormous set of elections, much bigger than the normal set of local ballots, and an important chance to test how the craziness of our national politics right now is going down with the public.Read more from Laura here.
Voters in 10 local authorities in England needed to either show ID or produce their polling card before they can vote as part of a trial scheme. Those in Braintree, Broxtowe, Craven, Derby, North Kesteven, Woking and Pendle had to show ID before they could vote. Voters in Mid Sussex, North West Leicestershire, and Watford local authorities were required to show their polling card.Everyone else in England was able to vote as usual, with no need to bring along a polling card or any proof of ID.But in Northern Ireland, voters needed photo ID, with the polling card received through the post being for information purposes only.