Wakefield local elections 2021 explained: How do they work and why is my vote important?

The local elections take place across England and Wales on Thursday, May 6.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 9:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 9:24 am
Voters go to the polls on Thursday, May 6.

With little more than a fortnight to go, candidates and political parties across the Wakefield district will be making one final push for your vote.

But how do the elections work and why is your vote important? Here's a quick explainer with answers to some of the big questions.

What is the political makeup of the council currently?

22 of the council's 63 seats are being contested.

The Wakefield district is divided into 21 geographical zones, or wards. Each ward has three councillors representing it. They sit on Wakefield Council and lobby on your behalf, raising local issues affecting their constituents.

The council has 63 seats in total and whichever party has control of more than half of them runs the local authority.

As the current ruling party Labour holds 47 of those seats, the Conservatives have 11, the Liberal Democrats have one and another is held by an independent councillor with no party political connections.

The remaining three seats are currently vacant.

Your vote affects how big decisions are taking on your behalf here, at County Hall.

What and who am I voting for this year?

Only a third of the council's seats are generally contested at any one time.

This year, voters are deciding on 22 of the council's 63 seats. That's one in each ward, apart from Airedale and Ferry Fryston where voters will be asked to elect two councillors and so the main parties standing there have put up two candidates each.

You can see a full list of the candidates standing in your area here.

The meeting chamber in County Hall.

Councillors who are elected this year will hold their seat for four years until 2025.

What are the main issues?

Voting in the local elections gives you the chance to influence how local services are run and how the council spends your money on things like schools, roads, social care for the elderly, libraries, leisure centres and bin rounds, to name but a few.

To be clear, and sorry if this is stating the obvious, but it's not a General Election and you are not voting for your local MP.

Are any other elections taking place on the same day?

Yes, this year's polls are being combined with the elections held for the first ever West Yorkshire mayor, who will have devolved regional powers over things like transport and job creation.

Whoever the new mayor is, they will also be taking on the duties previously held by West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, with the two offices being merged.

Meanwhile in Hemsworth, Walton and Upton, voters will also be electing representatives to serve on their town and parish councils.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Yes, government guidelines published ahead of the election says all voters and staff working at the polling booths must wear a mask unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

Because of Covid, voters are also asked to bring their own pens and pencils to mark ballot papers.

Am I registered to vote?

Those who are registered to vote should have received a polling card through the post, or will receive it in the coming days.

You do not have to take this to the polling station to vote, by the way.

The deadline to register to vote passed yesterday (Monday), but if you need to sign up to a postal vote you can do so until 5pm today (Tuesday).

Local Democracy Reporting Service