eople hoping to have their say in elections taking place across the UK next month have just a few days left to register to vote.
Contests are taking place on May 5 in each of the four nations, with every council seat in Scotland, Wales, London and many parts of England up for grabs, along with the election of a new Northern Ireland assembly.
But people who have not yet registered to vote, or aren’t sure if they are currently eligible, have only a short while to apply.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the deadline to register to vote is one week away on April 14, while in Scotland the deadline is April 18.
Most of the seats up for election on May 5 were last contested in 2018, when the UK was still in the European Union, the prime minister was Theresa May, Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrat leader was Vince Cable.
The political landscape of the UK has undergone huge changes in the past four years.
Yet many of the issues that can decide local elections remain the same, such as when bins are collected, the state of neighbourhood parks and pavements, and access to libraries and hospitals.
This year’s elections are also likely to be a verdict on the main party leaders and their handling of such national issues as Covid-19 and the cost of living.
It will be the first big electoral test for Prime Minister Boris Johnson since the “partygate” scandal.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey will be judged on whether their parties are able to make gains at the expense of the Conservatives.
In Scotland and Wales, the SNP and Plaid Cymru will want to hold their ground in the face of challenges from the UK-wide parties.
And across the country, smaller groups such as the Greens, residents’ associations and independents will hope to cause surprises and upsets.
Ailsa Irvine, director of electoral administration and guidance at the Electoral Commission, said: “With only a week to go to the registration deadline, time is running out to make sure you can take part in the May elections.
“These elections are an important opportunity to make your voice heard and have a say in who represents you on issues that directly affect day-to-day life.
“It’s quick and easy to register – it takes just five minutes online at www.gov.uk/registertovote. All you need is your name, date of birth and national insurance number.
“If you have recently become eligible to vote or moved home, it is particularly important that you make sure you are correctly registered. If you were registered to vote in the last election and your details have not changed, you don’t need to take any action.”
On Thursday May 5, elections will take place for:
– Every local authority in Scotland, Wales and London– South Yorkshire’s regional mayor plus the borough councils of Barnsley and Sheffield– 60 district councils, 31 Metropolitan boroughs and 19 unitary authorities across the rest of England– County councils in North Yorkshire and Somerset– All 90 seats in the Northern Ireland assembly– Local mayors in Croydon, Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Watford
There is also a referendum in Bristol on whether to keep or abolish the city’s elected mayor.
Here are the key dates in the countdown to polling day on May 5:
– April 12: Deadline in Northern Ireland to apply for a postal or proxy vote.– April 14: Deadline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to register to vote.– April 18: Deadline in Scotland to register to vote.– April 19: Deadline in England, Scotland and Wales to apply for a postal vote.– April 26: Deadline in England, Scotland and Wales to apply for a proxy vote.– May 5: Election day. Polls open from 7am to 10pm.– Overnight May 5/6: First results expected. Counting for the elections in Great Britain is likely to continue throughout May 6 and into May 7, while the final results from Northern Ireland might not be declared until May 8.