* Council elections 2019 - PA

Local Elections: Council elections 2019

* Updated February 28 2019: provisional list of boundary-change councils.

* Updated January 2 2019: cancellation of elections at four Bucks councils.

* Updated December 11 2018: cancellation of elections at seven Northants councils.

This advisory details our coverage of council election nominations and results, focusing on messages sent on the wire.

For details of messages in XML format for digital products, please see the page on XML format under Message specifications

Key dates and times for local elections in England in 2019:

  • Nominations close: Wednesday April 3.
  • Polling day: Thursday May 2.
  • Declarations: from the early hours of Friday May 3 and during the day.

Elections will take place at 248 councils in England, comprising:

  • 47 unitary authorities
  • 33 metropolitan boroughs
  • 168 non-metropolitan districts.

Note that elections that had been due to take place in May at seven non-metropolitan councils in Northamptonshire have been cancelled pending the introduction of two new unitary authorities for the region in 2020. The councils affected by poll cancellations are: Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, and Wellingborough.

Elections due at another four non-met councils – Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe – are also being cancelled following the announcement of a single new authority for Buckinghamshire to be created in 2020.

Some councils have elections for all seats while others have a third of their seats up this time. See the Councils List for details.

Six mayoral elections are taking place – see separate Mayoral Elections advisory.

Note: voters also go to the polls at all 11 local authorities in Northern Ireland. PA does not provide elections data for these contests but devotes editorial coverage to them in the general news service.

Boundary Changes

Councils with confirmed local boundary changes coming into effect for the May 2 polls are as follows:

  • Unitary authorities: Bath & North East Somerset, Cheshire West & Chester, Nottingham, Redcar & Cleveland, Rutland, South Gloucestershire, Torbay, West Berkshire, Windsor & Maidenhead Royal
  • Metropolitan boroughs: none.
  • Non-met authorities: Allerdale, Ashford, Babergh, Bolsover, Carlisle, Chichester, Copeland, Crawley, Dartford, Dover, East Cambridgeshire, East Devon, East Hampshire, Eastbourne, Forest of Dean, Harborough, Hertsmere, Horsham, King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Lewes, Mid Suffolk, North East Derbyshire, North Norfolk, Norwich, Preston, Reigate & Banstead, Ribble Valley, Richmondshire, Rother, Runnymede, Scarborough, South Norfolk, South Somerset, Surrey Heath, Teignbridge, Tendring, Test Valley, Tewkesbury, Torridge, Warwick, Wealden.

In addition, owing to local authority mergers, there are several new councils in the 2019 local elections, replacing existing councils. The changes are as follows:

  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole go into a single Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole unitary authority
  • East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland, as well as Dorset County Council, go into Dorset (unitary authority)
  • Suffolk Coastal and Waveney become East Suffolk (non-met district)
  • Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury become West Suffolk (non-met district)
  • Taunton Deane and West Somerset become Somerset West & Taunton (non-met district).

The Press Association will treat the new councils as boundary-change councils in its data.

Note that Shepway does not have boundary changes but the council’s name is being amended to Folkestone & Hythe.

Please see Results section below for information on the handling of results for councils where there have been boundary changes.


PA’s council elections baseline data, covering the current council line-up (seats held) and seats up this time (seats offered) before any boundary changes, unopposed returns, and candidates going to the poll, is made available to customers in the run-up to polling day in a wire message and through nominations files for each council in XML format for digital.

See the page on XML format under Message specifications for more details about council nominations files.

The wire message is sent as ELECTION Nominations with the category code: XTH

The data is revised as necessary in the run-up to polling day in the light of new information such as defections or postponed ward elections owing to the death of a candidate.

Full sets of the revised data are made available from time to time, with a final run on the afternoon of the day before polling day, Wednesday May 1.

Important: In very rare cases it may be necessary to amend the data for a particular council before its result can be sent during the event on May 2-3.

Note that fresh test nominations files are made available before each test under the test programme.


Rushes will be sent immediately on the wire after final declarations for a council where that council has changed control. These will be catchlined POLL Unitary for unitary authorities, POLL Metro for metropolitan boroughs, POLL Non-Met for non-metropolitan districts – all followed with the council name. For example, POLL Unitary Bedford.

They will have the category code: XTJ

Example text for rush messages:

  • C lose Worcester to no overall control
  • C gain Peterborough from no overall control

If it becomes clear in advance of final declarations that a council has changed control, a rush will be sent in the general news service under the usual editorial category code: HHH

Results will be sent immediately on the wire and in XML format after final declarations for a council have been made.

On the wire, these will be catchlined POLL Unitary for unitary authorities, POLL Metro for metropolitan boroughs, POLL Non-Met for non-metropolitan districts – all followed with the council name. For example, POLL Unitary Bedford.

They will be category-coded:

  • XLR for plain text (TTY)
  • XLD for data format.

Collated runs of all council election results in so far will be sent on the wire using the same category codes on Friday May 3 at about 0430, 0630, 0930, 1800 and later when all results are in. They will be catchlined POLL Unitary, POLL Metro, POLL Non-Met – followed by the keyword, Collated. For example, POLL Metro Collated.

Examples of a “full council” result (catchlined POLL Non-Met Westborough) in plain text (TTY) and in data format:


C gain from Lab

Lab lose 6, C gain 4, LD gain 2

New council: C 28, Lab 22, LD 4


{00}Westborough} }

{01}C} }Lab} }

{03}Lab} }lose} }6

{03}C} }gain} }4

{03}LD} }gain} }2

{04}C} }28

{04}Lab} }22

{04}LD} }4

In the case of a council where there have been boundary changes, the result will include the text “Boundary change” below the council name and changes in the numbers of seats held by parties as a result of the poll will be shown as “up” and “down” rather than “gain” or “lose”.

Example of a “part council” (halves or thirds) result (catchlined POLL Metro Newtown) in plain text (TTY) and data format:


Lab No change

Lab 10, C 6, LD 5

Lab lose 3, C gain 2, LD gain 1

New council: Lab 36, C 14, LD 13



{01}Lab} }} }No change

{02}Lab} }10

{02}C} }6

{02}LD} }5

{03}Lab} }lose} }3

{03}C} }gain} }2

{03}LD} }gain} }1

{04}Lab} }36

{04}C} }14

{04}LD} }13

If a result has to be corrected, the catchline on the wire will be styled POLL Correction followed by the council type and the council name. Example: POLL Correction Unitary Peterborough. Where there is a change to the winning party a rush correction will be sent with the same catchline.

Corrections are made for XML format messages by providing a new version of the result with a higher revision number. Customers should always take the latest version with the highest revision number. See the page on XML format under Message specifications for more information.


As results come through, we will be transmitting up-to-date State of Parties statistics giving details of overall seats and councils won by party and net changes up or down in seats and council control by party.

On the wire, these SoP statistics will be catchlined POLL State of Parties Council and will use the category code: XTH

Example of SoP gains and losses table:

With results available from 15 out of 88 councils, the state of parties is:

Party     Total     Change in     Seats    Net change

councils  control       won      in seats

Lab        4                       297      +11

LD         3         +1            161       +4

C          1                       201      -15

Ind                                 30       +1

Others                               5       -1

Noc        7         -1

A version of this SoP statistic is provided in XML format. See the page on XML format under Message specifications for more information.

On the wire, we will send out lists of councils gained and lost by parties at intervals as necessary, catchlined POLL Statistics, category code: XTH

Fictional example of council changes list:

Conservative lose to NOC



Labour lose to NOC



Telford & Wrekin


Liberal Democrat lose to NOC

South Somerset

Three Rivers



Conservative gain from NOC

Basingstoke & Deane


East Staffordshire




High Peak

St Albans


Staffordshire Moorlands




Wyre Forest


Conservative gain from Labour

Amber Valley

North Warwickshire


Conservative gain from Liberal Democrat

Hinckley & Bosworth


Conservative gain from Independent/Other



Labour gain from NOC



West Lancashire

Party abbreviations

  • Conservative (C)
  • Labour (Lab)
  • Liberal Democrat (LD)
  • Green Party (Green)
  • United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
  • Independent/Other (Ind)
  • Independent Community and Health Concern (Ind CHC)
  • Liberal (Lib)
  • Ratepayers or Residents (R)
  • Vacant (Vac)

Quick Reference Table

Catchlines and category codes:

Message Catchline Text category Data category
Rush POLL (followed by council type and council name) XTJ
Rush correction POLL Correction (followed by council type and council name) XTJ
Result POLL (followed by council type and council name) XLR XLD
Result correction POLL Correction (followed by council type and council name) XLR XLD
Collated results POLL (followed by council type and council name) Collated Result XLR XLD
State of parties POLL State of Parties Council XTH
Councils gained and lost by parties POLL Statistics XTH

Elections Live Coverage

All narrative copy, claims/pointers (giving indications for key councils in advance of final declarations), reaction and analysis, will run in the general news service. On the wire, these messages will use the usual editorial code: HHH


We will be sending test results ahead of the election, with voting figures generated at random by computer. Please see separate advisory for the test programme.

All test material will be marked clearly as “PA Test”.

You MUST check before polling day that any test material has been cleared from your systems.