Local elections 2019 - the answers to the burning questions on polling day

Local Elections 2018. The polling station at Greenfields Community Centre.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Local Elections 2018. The polling station at Greenfields Community Centre.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Voters across the region will today go to the polls, tasked with selecting the individuals to represent them on the district and parish councils. As the election unfolds, local democracy reporter DAVID HANNANT answers the burning questions you may have.

Why can't our national politicians learn from our local ones, asks James Marston. Picture : Rui Viei

Why can't our national politicians learn from our local ones, asks James Marston. Picture : Rui Vieira/PA Wire - Credit: PA

• Which seats are up for grabs at the local elections?

With Norfolk County Council working on a separate election cycle, it is just seats on district and parish councils up for grabs.

There are seven district councils holding elections in Norfolk, with the inaugural election for the newly-formed East Suffolk Council completing the region.

Across these councils there are 377 seats up for grabs, with all but three currently Conservative-led.

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The only two Norfolk councils currently not under Tory leadership are Norwich City Council - which has a Labour majority - and North Norfolk Council, which has no party majority but is Liberal Democrat-led.

While technically a new council, East Suffolk has been created by the merger of two Conservative-led councils - Waveney District and Suffolk Coastal Councils.

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• When will we get the results?

All but one of the councils will be counting votes on the morning of Friday, May 3. Each of the counts will begin around 9am, which will be followed by verification and finally declarations.

While each team will inevitably work at different paces, results will likely start to filer in around lunch time and by the early evening, all sets of the results should have been declared.

North Norfolk District Council, however, will this year be carrying out its count overnight, beginning shortly after the polls close at 10pm on Thursday.

NNDC is then estimated to start declaring results from midnight, with the full council declaration expected between 3 and 4am.

• What are the key battlegrounds for the Tories?

Nationally, the Conservative party is quietly expecting something of a downturn in fortunes and could lose a number of councils.

However, the party will be feeling confident about a least a few of the councils, which have been Tory strongholds for much of recent memory.

Save for single terms in the mid-90s where neither had overall control, Broadland and Breckland Councils have been Tory-led since the 1970s, while South Norfolk has been a Conservative council since 2007. This seems unlikely to change.

Great Yarmouth and West Norfolk, however, could be vulnerable. In Yarmouth, the Tories were only able to claim a majority with several Ukip defections, while in West Norfolk several established councillors have quit the party, meaning there may well be a surge of Independents winning seats.

The Tories will be particularly keen to regain their control over North Norfolk. In 2005 the party held a considerable majority, however, a combination of resignations and defections diminished this over the course of the term, allowing the Lib Dems to cease control.

• What are the key battlegrounds for Labour?

Labour's current stranglehold on Norwich City Council looks unlikely to be loosened - at the very least judging by the results of last May's elections. The party gained five seats from the Green party, leaving it with 31 out of the 39 seats.

The other district the party will be looking to do the most damage in is Great Yarmouth, which it controlled for the entire 1990s then again between 2012 and 2014.

The party still has a strong presence in the borough, having made four gains in the most recent set of elections in 2017. The party currently has 15 out of 39 seats on the council and will be hoping to build on this.

• What are the key battlegrounds for the Lib Dems?

With the momentum gained in the north of the county since the last local elections, the most likely territory for the Lib Dems is North Norfolk Council.

The party already has the parliamentary control of the area in Norman Lamb and holds the same number of seats as the Tories as it stands, with 19.

As the lead opposition in South Norfolk the party may also be looking to capitalise on political frustrations brought on by Brexit in the area.

• What are the key battlegrounds for the rest?

In West Norfolk there is a strong Independent presence, with an unusually high number of candidates standing without party allegiance - 26 in today with one candidate in all but nine of the wards.

Meanwhile, the Green party will be hoping to reclaim seats lost on Norwich City Council, fielding candidates in all 13 wards. The Greens are also fielding seven candidates in Breckland,

When and where do I vote?

The polls open at 7am today, closing at 10pm. Details of your polling station will be contained on your polling card and on your relevant council's website.

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