THE LOCAL elections are taking place next week, here's everything you need to know about what they are and how they could affect you.

A number of elections will be taking place next week, on May 6, for both the council and Dorset's police and crime commissioner (PCC). 

In a pre-Covid world you could be excused for not giving your local elections much thought but as we emerge from the pandemic, these polls are more important than ever.

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Local elections have an integral part to play in our democracy and really allow us, the residents, to vote for the change we want to see in our area.

If all of this sounds a little hazy or confusing don't worry - here are some handy explainers:  

What are the local elections?

Local government elections give residents the chance to choose who represents them on issues that affect their communities. 

Going to the polling station on May 6 , you will be able to vote for your favourite candidate to become a councillor as well as who you would like to see replace the current police and crime commissioner. 

Bournemouth Echo:

Local elections are taking place next week, Thursday May 6 (PA).

By-elections will be held for the Commons ward in Christchurch and for Canford Heath following the deaths of Christchurch Independent councillor Colin Bungey and Liberal Democrat Pete Parrish last year.

The PCC election is also taking place on May 6 and is the only one every single person in the county can vote on. 

The current PCC is Martyn Underhill who is an independent that has been in the role since 2012 however he will not be restanding for the job in the upcoming elections.

The election was originally due to take place in May 2020 but was postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The role of the PCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for all of the policing in the area and aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service.

All but one of the PCC candidates for Dorset are tied to a political party and voting in this election enables you to better hold power to account.

Why would I vote in the local elections?

Voting in the elections on Thursday, May 6, enables you to help choose new local councillors.

BCP is a unitary authority, this means that the council runs all of our services - unlike elsewhere which may have a District and County council (which in turn, splits the running of services).

Our councillors are elected on four-year terms to single or multi-member wards using the first past the post electoral system (the first person to get a majority).

No vote will take place for the new Throop and Holdenhurst parish council with all of the seven candidates automatically elected due to the low number of nominees.

Local councillors are in charge of issues like bin collections, public transport, local education and environmental issues in the area.

So, if you have something to say or would like to change the way an issue is dealt with in the area, one of the most pro-active things you can do is vote in the local elections. 

Who can vote?

To vote in the local elections you must:

  • Be registered to vote
  • Be 18 years old or over on the day of the election
  • Be a British, Irish, Commonwealth or EU citizen
  • Be registered at an address in the area in which you want to vote
  • Not be legally excluded from voting - for example, convicted criminals in prison may not be able to vote, depending on their offence

You can no longer register to vote in the elections on May 6. You can still register for future elections.

Check if you're registered by visiting the government website