Local elections: Your guide to the vote in England

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Various regions in England will go to the polls on Thursday as local elections take place.

People will be voting for their local councillors, with about 150 different councils up for grabs this year.

Local elections generally concern day-to-day stuff in your area, such as bin collections, roads and local parks.

Councillors up for election can be from the established political parties, or they can be independent candidates.

How is this different to a general election?

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Firstly, the whole country doesn't vote - and there are no elections in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

Part of the reason is because different local authorities in England work in different ways.

For example, some councils only put a third of places up for a vote at a time - so each year, a different third of the council is voted on.

In other places, half or the whole council is voted on at the same time.

media captionShould Theresa May be worried about the local elections in May?

People's political alliances might also change in local elections.

In a general election you're voting for the MP who will represent your area in parliament - which then determines who becomes prime minister.

But in a local election, you're voting for an individual person based on what they pledge for your area. It doesn't really have much bearing on national policy.

Analysts have still been known to use local elections as a signal for what England thinks of the big parties though.

What do councillors actually do?

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Local councillors are in charge of the local government of an area.

They're responsible for local services like bin collection, local transport, council housing, social services and leisure centres.

Their funding comes from council tax, business rates (a tax on a company's property) and central government, as well as from fees from things like car parks.

Depending on where you live, your council tax bill might include a breakdown of how your money is being spent by the council.

Who am I voting for?

media captionLocal elections: Photo ID needed at some polling stations

If there is an election in your area, you should have got a polling card through the post to confirm you're registered to vote in these elections.

There's more than one kind of council in England - ie county council, city council, parish council, etc.

The type of council you have depends on where you live.

You might have got some leaflets through your door from your local candidates making their promises.

They might be from one of the large parties, or they could be independent candidates.

They could also be Residents Associations (groups which act as a voice for particular groups in some areas).

You could be voting for more than one candidate, so double check on your ballot form how many crosses to put down.

You don't have to vote for candidates from the same party as each other.

What about the mayoral elections?

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image captionProtesters stand next to a rare Huntingdon Elm tree in Sheffield

There are six mayoral elections this time around: four in parts of London, plus Watford and the Sheffield City Region.

The elections in London are for a mayor of the borough (Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets), which is separate to the overall mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

This is the first time the Sheffield area is voting for a mayor.

A plan to cut down thousands of trees in Sheffield has been met with lots of protests and has been a big talking point during the election campaign.

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