Polls open on Super Thursday as Suffolk votes in Election 2021

Local elections are taking place across Suffolk in May 2021. Picture: SARAH lUCY BROWN

Local elections are taking place across Suffolk in May 2021. Picture: SARAH lUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Today is the first chance voters have had to give their views on how Britain's political parties have coped since the start of the Covid pandemic early last year.

In an election dubbed "Super Thursday," voters throughout Suffolk have the chance to choose new county councillors and a Police and Crime Commissioner for the county.

In Ipswich there are also elections for a third of the borough council - and there are by-elections for vacant seats in other districts across Suffolk.

This year, many more people than usual have voted early after returning officers urged people to apply for postal votes in a bid to reduce the pressure on a more limited number of polling stations.

The number of postal vote applications has varied across the county, but it is up in all districts. In Ipswich almost 36% of residents have applied to vote by post and most are likely to have returned their voting papers by now.

For those who do vote in person, the number of polling stations across the county has been cut - and many people will be voting in unfamiliar surroundings. 

The message is to check your polling cards before leaving home - and be prepared to wait outside because there will be strict limits about how many people can be in a polling station at any time. Polling stations are open until 10pm.

The county council election votes will be counted on Friday during the day - there are no overnight counts in the region this year - with results coming in from mid-morning until early evening.

The first indication of how the county race is faring should be clear by lunchtime - but the last results are not expected until about 6pm.

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In Ipswich there are 18 borough seats up for grabs - they will be counted on Friday evening after the county council results and may not be confirmed until about 7pm.

The Police and Crime Commissioner election count is being co-ordinated from Lowestoft and is being carried out across the county on Saturday morning. The final result is expected to be announced in the early afternoon.

The actual time of the declaration will depend on whether any candidate gets more than 50% of the votes in the first ballot. If no one does, the second ballot preferences of the losing candidates will have to be counted - that process usually takes between one and two hours.

Finally, district council by-elections in East Suffolk and West Suffolk will be counted on Monday morning. These cannot affect the overall political make-up of the councils, but they could be significant because two former county council leaders - Mark Bee and Colin Noble - are trying to win back district seats that they lost two years ago.

We will have full coverage of the results as they come in online and in our print editions on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday as the fallout of the results becomes clear.

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