The largest round of local elections since 2019 will take place in May, with more than 8,000 council seats up for grabs in 230 local authorities in England.
There are also mayoral elections in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough, while 462 council seats will be voted on in Northern Ireland.
Here’s everything you need to know about the elections, including how to check if your council is voting, and what they mean for the political landscape.
When are the local elections?
The elections will take place on Thursday 4 May in England, and two weeks later, on Thursday 18 May, in Northern Ireland.
Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm on election day, after which the votes will be counted.
You should receive a polling card informing you where to vote. If you do not have a polling card, you can find your local polling station by entering your postcode here. You must vote at the polling station you are registered to, unless you have applied for a postal vote, which you must do in advance. You can do this here.
Is there an election in my area?
To see if there is an election in your area in May, enter your postcode into the Electoral Commission’s online checker here.
The elections are mostly taking place in rural areas, which are commonly head by the Conservatives. More than 3,300 of the 8,000 seats being voted on are held by the Tories.
There are also votes in some urban areas of northern England, which Labour typically controls. Labour will defend more than 2,000 seats, with the Liberal Democrats holding 1,200 and the Greens 240.
Why are local elections important?
Issues such as bin collections, the state of roads and access to local hospitals and libraries tend to decide these elections, as opposed to issues like the economy and immigration which dominate the conversation during a general election. Candidates very much focus on everyday problems that affect the local community.
However, this is still the biggest test of political opinion ahead of the next general election.
Big wins for Labour would add to the feeling that Sir Keir Starmer’s party is primed to take over at the next national vote, whereas the Tories performing better than expected would provide hope for Rishi Sunak.
The last time these seats were voted on, Theresa May was prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the opposition, so the political landscape is significantly different.