Local elections: How the night unfolded in numbers

A count volunteer sorts ballot papers as they arrive to be counted at the Latton Bush Centre in Harlow, Essex, as counting begins across the UK in local council elections Image copyright PA
Image caption Thousands of council ballot papers were counted overnight

From the fastest council count in England to the thousands of cups of tea it takes to get through, here is how election night unfolded in numbers.

Every vote counts

Labour comfortably won the by-election in Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough by a majority of 9,590, leaving Bobby Smith of Give Me Back Elmo - who stood out in the line-up of candidates dressed as Elmo from Sesame Street - in last place with 58 votes.

Image caption Bobby Smith of Give Me Back Elmo won 58 votes in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough by-election

However, there were council seats where double or even single digit margins made all the difference, such as for Labour's Duncan Enright in Witney.

He conceded defeat at first, revealing he had "lost by 70 votes or so". Within an hour he tweeted: "Miscount in Witney East, result now in, I win by 70!"

In Cannock Chase, Labour held on to an outright majority by one seat, thanks to winning the Brereton and Ravenhill ward by three votes.

Meanwhile in Thurrock, UKIP gained six seats but missed out on being the largest party by just one vote in the final ward declared.

The Conservatives' own voters - and a mix-up - nearly cost them a seat in Wolverhampton.

An "error" saw the party field two candidates in the same ward. The winning Conservative candidate, Udey Singh, received 1,045 votes and was elected to the Tettenhall Regis seat, with Labour's Chester Morrison in second on 970. The other Conservative, outgoing councillor Mark Evans, polled 415 votes. If he had taken just 65 more from his fellow Tory it would have lost the party one of the two seats they were defending.

Speed counting

Sunderland has a reputation for being first to declare election results. In 2015 the Houghton and Sunderland South constituency was the first result announced for the sixth general election running. In the 2016 local elections, it was the city council's Pallion ward, won by Labour's Amy Wilson, that came first.

Her victory was revealed about 63 minutes after polls closed.

The first ballot box arrived at Sunderland's count at about 22:05 BST, with the last results declared at 00:09.

The fastest election count

Sunderland finished first


ballot papers counted

  • 124 minutes between first ballot box arriving and last result declaration

  • 405.7 votes counted per minute

  • 6.8 votes counted per second

  • 19 councillors elected

Getty Images

Keeping the kettle on

Polling stations were open for 15 hours for voting on Thursday. That meant a lot of stationery, not to mention refreshments for the people staffing them, as Coventry City Council revealed.

Polling provisions

How to keep officers going


cups of tea drunk in Coventry


boxes of paperclips


It takes hundreds of staff in many areas to be able to run the elections and count the ballots, as BBC WM's Rob Mayor revealed from Walsall.

Image copyright Twitter

What was at stake

English councils





  • 58 Labour-controlled before vote

  • 39 Conservative-run

  • 4 Liberal Democrat

  • 23 No overall control

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