LONDON: Polling stations have opened for voting in England’s local council and mayoral elections. There are nearly 2,400 positions being elected, including the first votes for six new combined authority mayors created under devolution deals. Elections are also taking place in county, unitary and metropolitan councils and for local council mayors in Doncaster and North Tyneside. Registered voters are able to cast their ballots from 07:00-22:00 BST. Almost every seat is being elected in all of the authorities, including 126 in Durham, 98 in Wiltshire and 84 each in Cumbria and Norfolk. The first directly-elected mayors will be chosen in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. They will oversee new combined authorities, which are groups of existing councils working together to make use of new devolved powers. The mayors will mostly be responsible for economic development, but some will have powers over transport and housing.
While councillors will be elected by a simple majority, the combined authority mayors will be chosen under the Supplementary Voting System – giving people a first and second choice. It means that if no candidate wins at least 50% of the vote, the top two candidates go to a second round with the second choice votes counted of everyone whose first choice was eliminated. Counting will not take place until Friday morning for most of the results. Those counting overnight, straight after polls close, include the West of England mayor and councils for the Isle of Wight, Warwickshire, Dorset and Essex. Most councils will declare results on Friday afternoon, with the West Midlands and Greater Manchester mayors expected to be announced on Friday evening. Electors who registered for postal votes but did not post them can take them to a polling station. Cornwall Council is electing 122 of its 123 councillors. One contest, in Bodmin St Petroc, has been delayed following the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Rogerson. The Council of Isles of Scilly, which has a special status, is also electing 16 councillors. A planned Parliamentary by-election in Manchester Gorton, triggered by the death of sitting MP Gerald Kaufman, was due to take place but was cancelled after a General Election was called for 8 June.