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Change is coming: will you be ready for it?

19th February 2021 By Freddie Palmer
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The die will be cast in May. Every voter in Britain will have the opportunity to take part in at least one election.

Elections postponed in May 2020 will now coincide with those scheduled for this year creating an electoral event trumped only by a general election. The 6 May 2021 will be “Super Thursday”.

Social’s South West team will be using our insight, knowledge and experience supporting projects across the West Country to keep you up to date with what’s happening, what might happen and what change could mean across the region.

Let us know where you’re interested in and we’ll keep you in the know.

Everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win a bottle of award-winning Devon vineyard’s Classic Cuvée – 2016 New Vintage Release.

What do the elections mean?

Anyone involved with creating great places will be familiar with the democratic process. The electoral cycle is something that needs to be understood to be navigated.

These months leading up to the elections can bring heightened sensitives as the ballot box provides an imminent feedback mechanism on local issues. Politicians are also busier. Campaigning can make it harder for them to prioritise a meeting about a new scheme or read that consultation newsletter.

It’s important to bear this in mind in the coming months. But things don’t just stop. The pre-election or Purdah period limits what councils say. But as Swindon’s cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, planning and transport told us at a webinar earlier this week, business will continue to happen.

“It doesn’t stop,’ Cllr Sumner said. “We can’t turn off the taps and tell applicants we are not now doing anything for several months when local elections are on the way”.

Obviously political change is the ultimate uncertainty. Changes to councils’ political leadership is one thing but there will be many councillors standing down. This can change the characteristics of an administration, a committee or the ward councillors who may be interested in a scheme.

Staying up to date with what’s happening, understanding who’s leaving and who the new faces will be and being ready to react to this change can be vital.

Where are elections taking place?

As well as police and crime commissioner and town and parish council elections, people will be voting for:

Directly elected mayors of:

  • West of England
  • Bristol

All county councillors in:

  • Devon
  • Gloucestershire
  • Somerset*

All councillors in the districts and unitary councils of:

  • Stroud
  • Gloucester
  • Bristol
  • Wiltshire
  • Cornwall

A third of councillors in the districts and unitary councils of:

  • Exeter
  • Swindon
  • Plymouth

We’ll be following the elections closely. If you want to benefit from our insights tell us where you’re interested in.

If you have any questions or want to find out how we can help you manage the risks of political change email

If you’re interested in what’s happening elsewhere in the country, like in the West Yorkshire mayoral race, then Freddie can put you in touch with the relevant member of our team.

*Somerset County Council has requested a delay to its elections to await a decision on reorganisation into one or two unitary councils. Government is yet to respond. The county council is already preparing to hold the ballot so the closer we get to May the less likely these will be postponed.