Norfolk and Suffolk elections 2021: Election day guide
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Voters in Norfolk and Suffolk are going to the polls today for a set of crucial local elections.
The elections will decide who will run a string of vital services such as schools, libraries, adult social care and bin collections, as well as who will oversee the police.
What elections are there and what's at stake?
Eighty-three seats at Norfolk County Council are up for election, with the 84th postponed until next month after the death of one of the candidates.
That means control of County Hall, which provides services such as libraries, adult social care, children's services and highways, could change.
At the moment, the Conservatives control the council. They have 52 seats, Labour 16, Liberal Democrats nine, Independent three, Independent (non-aligned) one, non-aligned one and two vacancies.
All 75 seats at Suffolk County Council will be contested.
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The Conservatives currently enjoy a large majority and are defending 50 seats. Labour is defending 11, the Liberal Democrats five, and the Greens three. The remainder comprises five Independents and one West Suffolk Independent.
Norwich City Council has elections in 12 wards, with the 13th, in Sewell postponed until June.
Each ward is represented by three councillors, so one third of the 39 seats are up for re-election.
Labour currently control the council. There are 27 Labour councillors, eight Green Party and three Liberal Democrats.
Norfolk will get a new police and crime commissioner. Current incumbent, Conservative Lorne Green is not seeking re-election.
That means it is a battle between Giles Orpen-Smellie (Conservative), Martin Schmierer (Green), David Moreland (Independent), Michael Rosen (Labour) and John Crofts (Liberal Democrat).
The police and crime commissioner is responsible for holding the chief constable to account, for setting priorities and the police's budget.
In Suffolk, current Conservative police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore aims to continue in the role. His opponents are Andy Patmore (Green), Elizabeth Hughes (Labour) and James Sandbach (Liberal Democrats).
How do I vote?
Eligible voters should have received polling cards, detailing their polling station, but details can also be found at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/your-election-information
Polls opened at 7am and will close at 10pm on Thursday, May 6.
People with postal votes who have not sent them back can return them to their polling station by 10pm on May 6.
People who want someone to vote on their behalf (a proxy vote) should have registered last month.
But there are circumstances, such as a positive Covid test, where an emergency proxy vote can be obtained up until 5pm on May 6.
What does Covid-19 mean for polling stations?
Measures have been taken to make them Covid safe, including more widely spaced booths and protective screens.
People will be asked to wear masks and are being urged to take their own pens and pencils, while there may be longer queues than normal due to reduced capacity.
When will the results be known?
The Norfolk and Suffolk county council results will be known first, with counts taking place on Friday.
But it is likely to be well into the evening before all the results are known.
The police and crime commissioner counts will begin on Saturday morning, while the Norwich City Council count does not get under way until 6pm on Saturday.
Visit www.edp24.co.uk for all the results as they come in.
What's happening elsewhere?
Across England, 143 councils are holding elections, while there are also mayoral elections, including in London, Manchester, West Yorkshire and Liverpool.
There is also a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool. That seat is currently held by Labour.
The result there is seen as significant as it is the first time Boris Johnson's Conservatives have gone head to head with Keir Starmer's Labour in a parliamentary election.
There are also parish council elections and by-elections at some councils which are not having elections, including at Great Yarmouth Borough Council.