Thomas gives us the lowdown on Local and General elections

Local elections are different to national elections.

The people who stand in local elections have a different job title to anyone standing in a national election – better known as a ‘General Election’.

A person standing or elected in a Local Election is called a Councillor. These elections come round every four years. They are usually 2 years before a General election. Local councillors are elected in local elections and seek to work with local people on local issues and are based within the local community.

A person standing in a General Election is standing to be an MP (a Member of Parliament). They work with people across the country covering national issues. MPs are often mainly based in one place called Westminster in London.

Whereas MPs vote and decide on the policies in Parliament that are agreed nationally, local councils have to decide how to apply the policies agreed in Parliament are applied in the area the Council and its Councillors represent.

The local council cannot set its own budget – it cannot decide the amount of money it is given or that it actually spends. The budget is decided by Government. The council and its councillors elected by the local people in the local elections decide where and what services to spend the money on. They also decide who provides these services and who receives them. A good example of this would be Bus Travel or Social Care.

Candidates standing local elections won’t all agree on what is best to do in the local area. This is what the elections are all about – people trying to make a difference in their local area.

Because the candidates won’t all agree on what are the best things to focus and spend money on and manage in their local area, it is important that the voter listens to what they are saying, decides which candidate is saying they are going to make concentrate on things that are important to them – like more spending on Libraries or better Bus Services. These are some of the issues local elections and the people elected can result in effecting.

Really, it’s about choosing the candidate who the voter – the person listening to the candidate – feels is concentrating and commenting on the changes that need to be made to the voters and residents local area.

All local residents – people who live in homes within the local area – who have registered to vote will be sent a voting card in the post or a form which they can use to vote by post.

Local residents who are NOT registered to vote can ring Liverpool Council’s electoral services section where they will help you register to vote and give you any information on voting and where the nearest polling station – the place where you place your vote – will be. If you need to contact Electoral Services you can do so by calling 0151 233 3028 or visiting the Liverpool City Council at

Placing a vote in a local election is slightly different to placing your vote in a General election. Unlike in a General Election – when you go to the polling station and go into a place called a booth where you drop your vote – written on a piece of card – into a box,  you must pick TWO candidates. The first one you write down would be your favourite and would  get the all of your vote. The second one you write down would be your NEXT favourite and in certain situations would get some of your vote.

This is called Alternative Vote (AV). This is the system used to elect Local Councillors in Local Elections in the United Kingdom.

More places for good information explaining the details of local elections are available below:

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