Are there local council elections taking place in May 2021?
Yes. Elections are scheduled for all parish, town, and city councils in the Wiltshire area and for several parish and town councils in the Swindon area.
Wiltshire Council unitary elections (for all seats), election of one councillor to each of the wards of Swindon Borough Council (except Chiseldon and Lawn), the Police and Crime Commissioner election (postponed from 2020) and a number of local neighbourhood planning referendums will also be taking place. The polls will all take place on Thursday 6th May 2021 and polling stations will be open between 7am and 10 pm.
These FAQs refer to the parish, town, and city (local) council elections in both Swindon and Wiltshire areas.
Where elections are scheduled, will all existing councillors stand down?
Yes. All existing councillors cease to be councillors and will have to be nominated for election if they wish to stand again for the next term (2021-2025)
Are there specific dates I should know about?
Yes, a timetable of relevant and specific dates can be found at https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/media/4911
It includes, but is not limited to the following:
• 29th March 2021 (no later than) – Publication of Notice of Election
• 8th April 2021 – Candidates have from the date stated on the notice of election up to 4 pm on Thursday 8th April to submit nomination papers
• 8th April 2021 – Deadline for withdrawal of nomination (4pm)
• 9th April 2021 – Publication of Statement of Persons nominated
• 27th April 2021 – Publication of Notice of Poll
• 6th May 2021 – Day of Poll
Are there some relevant dates for local councils after 6th May?
Yes. The previous council stands down on 10th May (4 days after polling day) and the new council takes office on the same day.
Within 14 days of the new council taking office, the annual meeting of the council must be held. The first business of this meeting is the appointment of Chairman.
By 7th June. All new councillors must have completed their registration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.
Other dates are included in the timetable at the above link.
Can anyone be elected to a local council?
To be able to stand for election (or co-option) to a local council, an individual must meet certain qualifications (by law). They must be:
• Over 18 and a UK, Commonwealth, ROI, or EU Citizen and
• An elector for the parish, or
• For the last 12 months, have occupied land or premises in the parish, or
• Work in the parish (principal or only place of work), or
• Live within 3 miles of the parish boundary
Someone cannot stand for election, if at the time of their nomination and on polling day:
• They are employed by the parish/community council or hold a paid office under the parish/community council (including joint boards or committees).
• They are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order.
• They have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more (including a suspended sentence), without the option of a fine, during the five years before polling day.
• They have been disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which covers corrupt or illegal electoral practices and offences relating to donations). a person has been reported guilty by an election court or convicted and lasts for five years.
How are candidates nominated?
There is guidance for candidates and nomination forms at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/candidate-or-agent/parish-council-elections-england
Candidates should also be advised to check the relevant principal authority website:
Candidates need to have two subscribers (a proposer and a seconder) and will need to advise them that they will require their Electoral Register number and how it will be used (for GDPR purposes). This information will be in the nomination form and candidate pack.
Nomination papers have to be delivered in person. Wiltshire Council is encouraging appointments to do this and has created a booking system – see www.wiltshire.gov.uk/elections-town-parish for details.
Will a poll take place for the local council election?
It depends. If, by 8th April only the same number, or fewer candidates than there are seats on the council have been nominated, they will be elected unopposed. If there are more candidates than there are seats on the council – it will go to the poll on 6th May.
How is the current Coronavirus situation affecting the elections?
Government has produced a polls’ delivery plan which can be read at www.gov.uk/government/publications/may-2021-polls-delivery-plan and each principal authority is putting plans in place for the safety of polling stations and the count.
With the current situation in mind, councils may wish to encourage their electorate to vote by post. Residents can be directed to:
Swindon Borough Council – voting by post and Wiltshire Council – voting by post.
Wiltshire Council also has a video about this on its YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7nLOlG23ic
On 26th February, the Government issued guidance on how political parties, candidates, agents and campaigners can undertake COVID-secure campaigning activity for the May 2021 polls. Visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-governments-approach-to-elections-and-referendums-during-covid-19 to read the guidance.
Where can I find more information?
For local councils in Wiltshire, Wiltshire Council delivered an Elections’ webinar on 24th February. If you missed it live, it is available to watch on Wiltshire Council’s YouTube channel.