UK Politics

English council election results 2014

Here are key details on how the BBC reports results for local elections.

How is council control calculated?

If a party holds a majority of seats on any particular council, it is deemed to be in control of that council.

Council control prior to the election has long been defined by the BBC, PA and others as which party has the majority on the eve of the poll.

So if a council was won by the Conservatives in 2010, but then through defections and by-election losses became No Overall Control in 2012, in 2014 we would describe it as a Conservative gain should the party regain its majority.

How is seat change calculated?

The BBC shows seat change by comparing the seats each party is contesting this year with the result for the same seats at the last comparable election.

In many councils, only a third or half of seats are contested in each election. Council pages display the new total seats for each party.

Some councils holding elections this year also held 'all seats up' elections in 2012. In these cases, the comparison is made with the 2012 result.

In councils where there have been boundary changes - resulting in a different number of seats up for election this year - the BBC uses a notional figure to project what the previous result would have been.

Notional results are compiled by BBC analysts.

Until 2013 the BBC, in conjunction with the Press Association and many other media organisations, based seat change on the number of seats held by each party at the time the council was officially dissolved before the election.

This data was compiled into a data "baseline" and election results then compared with this baseline to show seat change for each council and nationwide.

Basing seat change on previous electoral performance brought local elections into line with BBC policy for general elections.

What do 'NOC' and other abbreviations mean?

Abbreviations are mainly used to abbreviate parties.

BNP: British National Party

CON: Conservative

CPA: Christian Peoples Alliance

ED: English Democrats

LAB: Labour

LIB: Liberal

LD: Liberal Democrat

GRN: Green Party

ICHC: Independent Community & Health Concern

IND: Independent

NOC: No Overall Control

RA: Residents Association

RES: Respect - The Unity Coalition

SOC: Socialist

UKIP: UK Independence Party

VAC: Vacant

What elections are happening this year?

Elections will be held in 161 councils in England and 11 brand new councils in Northern Ireland this year.

The local elections will take place on 22 May - the same day as elections for the European Parliament.

There are also five elections for directly-elected mayors - in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Watford.

There are no local elections in Wales or Scotland this year.

When are results expected?

Approximately half of councils will begin counting ballots as soon as polls close at 2200 on 22 May.

These councils are expected to declare results overnight.

Other councils will start their counts on Friday morning, with the remaining results expected to come from midday on Friday.

What are the different types of council and what do they do?

In this set of elections, three types of council are involved - metropolitan boroughs, district councils and unitary authorities.

Metropolitan borough councils are responsible for nearly all important public services in major urban areas, including education, planning, roads, social services, waste and recycling.

In many cities some services - such as fire, police and public transport - are provided through 'joint authorities'.

District councils are are responsible for local issues and services such as planning and building control, minor roads, council housing, environmental health, markets, refuse collection, recycling, cemeteries, parks and tourism.

They exist at a level below a county council, which runs the largest and most expensive services for the whole county, including education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, fire and police services, waste disposal and strategic planning.

In some places, district and county councils have been merged into one to form a unitary authority, which is responsible for all of the services provided at district and county level.

This year's elections break down as follows:

  • 32 London Boroughs (all seats up for election)
  • 36 Metropolitan Boroughs (one third of seats up)
  • 19 Unitary authorities (two with all seats up, 17 with one third up)
  • 74 District councils (two with all seats up, 7 with half up and 65 with one third up)

Councils generally hold elections every four years, with a varying set of councils holding elections each year. There are no county council elections in 2014.

A list of all English councils holding elections this year is available here.

Who runs councils?

When a political party has a majority of council seats, it is deemed to have "control" of the council. Councils still debate issues, but the political party with the majority will be able to exert its collective influence.

In many councils, no political party has a majority and the council is run as a coalition between different groupings of councillors. These councils are described as having "No Overall Control" (NOC).

Council politics are much more fluid and less well-defined than Westminster affairs. Defections (where a councillor leaves a party to join another one, or become independent) are quite common.