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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions 2021-05-07T08:53:53+01:00

When is the Regional Mayor election? 

On Thursday 6 May, residents in Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire will be voting for a Regional Mayor.

What other elections are taking place on Thursday 6 May?

Across the region there are also Police & Crime Commissioner elections taking place. In Bristol there will also be local elections and an election for a Bristol Mayor.

How can I vote at the May 2021 elections?

There are three ways to have your say – you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote.

To vote in any election in the UK, you must be registered to vote. The deadline to register is midnight on 19 April 2021.

How do I register to vote?

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in elections or referendums. It takes five minutes to register online.

If you’re unable to register online, you can download the a registration form and apply by post.

If you were registered to vote in the last election and your details have not changed, you don’t need to take any action. If in doubt, you can check with your local council.

Bath & North East Somerset 01225 477 333

Bristol 0117 922 3400

South Gloucestershire 01454 863 030

How to cast your vote

This election uses the supplementary voting system. You will have two votes – one for your first choice candidate and one, if you wish, for your second choice candidate.

The ballot paper will list all the candidates standing. Next to the list of candidates there will be two columns.

  1. Vote by putting an X in column A, next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice.

You must vote in this column for your first choice to be counted.

  1. Vote by putting an X in column B, next to the name of the candidate who is your second choice.

If you do not vote in this column, your first choice vote will still be counted.

  1. If you vote twice for the same candidate, your second vote will not be counted.
  2. You should not mark more than one X in the first choice column, and you should not mark more than one X in the second choice column

If you have marked a first choice, you can choose whether or not to mark a second choice.

If you only mark a cross in the second choice column, your vote will not be counted.

Who is elected?

All the first choices are counted, and if one candidate has received more than 50% of the votes they will be elected Mayor.

If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote:

  • The two candidates with the most first choice votes will remain in the election and all other candidates are eliminated.
  • The ballot papers for the eliminated candidates are then checked. Any second choice votes for the two remaining candidates are added to their first round totals. The candidate with the most votes wins.

Why two votes for one Mayor?

The law states the voting process for the Mayoral elections must be done this way. It also allows you to say who would be your second choice for Mayor if your first choice is not in the top two after the first round of counting, and if there is not an outright majority winner at that stage.

I have lost my poll card, can I get another one?

If you are on the electoral register, you don’t need a poll card to vote. You can attend the polling station and staff there will help you. The poll card is just to inform you that there is an election and explain where your polling station is.

Why has every voter in my household been sent a Regional Mayor booklet?

The law says that every registered voter must be sent their own copy, so they get a chance to see who the candidates are.

The booklet will also be published on this website once available

How can I apply to vote by post or proxy?

To apply to vote by post you need to download, print and fill in a postal vote application form. Once you have completed the form and signed it, you need to send it to the electoral services team at your local council. If you can’t print the form, contact the electoral services team at your local council, so that a form can be posted to you.

If you are not sure which is your local council you can find out here.

If you want to vote by post, you can apply to do this now. This will make sure your application is processed early, and your postal vote can be sent to you more quickly once the candidates for the elections are confirmed.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on 20 April.

How do I vote by proxy?

If you aren’t able to vote in person, you can ask someone you trust to vote for you. This is called a proxy vote and the person is often referred to as your proxy.

To apply for a proxy vote, complete the form to vote by proxy, explaining why you can’t get to your polling station in person. The person voting on your behalf can either go to your polling station to vote, or can apply to vote for you by post.

The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on 27 April.

If you already have a postal or proxy vote arrangement in place, and your details have not changed, you don’t need to take any action.

For any change to existing postal or proxy arrangements, please refer to your local authority

Don’t forget that however you choose to vote, you must be registered first.

Is voting in person safe?

Polling stations will be safe places to vote in accordance with the Government’s latest Covid guidance. If you choose to vote in person, you can keep yourself and others safe by:

  • wearing a face covering
  • bringing your own pen or pencil
  • cleaning your hands when entering and leaving the polling station
  • keeping a safe distance

You should not attend the polling station if you have symptoms of Covid-19, or if you have been asked to self-isolate.

We will continue to follow the most up to date public health guidance as we prepare for the elections, and will update this page as more information and guidance becomes available.

What happens if I fall ill with Covid-19 or need to self-isolate at the last minute?

If you are self-isolating or become unwell as a result of Covid-19 shortly before polling day, or on the day itself, you don’t need to miss out on your vote. You may be able to apply for an emergency proxy vote – where someone you trust can vote at your polling station on your behalf. Speak to the electoral registration team at your local council who will tell you what you need to do to arrange this.

Who is the Mayor?

The former mayor was Tim Bowles, who was elected in May 2017. The next election for the Regional Mayor is May 2021 which you can find out more about here.

What’s a metro mayor?

A metro mayor is another word for a Regional Mayor. You may hear this term when talking about other combined authorities or regional mayors.

How does the Regional Mayor’s powers differ from those of the Bristol Mayor, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset leaders?

The West of England Mayor works together with the Bristol Mayor, who is responsible for the area covered by Bristol City Council, and the leaders of Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils to make decisions to benefit the wider region.

The three council are still responsible for most public service delivery (such as waste and highways management, schools, and recreational facilities). The Regional Mayor focuses on wider issues that span across the region, such as transport, skills, housing and economic growth.

How long will the Regional Mayor’s term run for?

The Mayor’s term will run for four years. For the first term, this means from 2017-2021; for the second, 2021 – 2025.

What is the difference between the Regional Mayor, the Bristol Mayor and the Lord Mayor, and why do we need them all?

The Government wants to have a named individual accountable for the additional powers and money being devolved to the West of England Combined Authority. The Regional Mayor is a condition of the Government’s devolution offer.

Sometimes referred to in the media as a ‘Metro Mayor’, he or she is a local government executive leader, directly elected by the local voting public. The Regional Mayor is responsible for the West of England Combined Authority.

Bristol has a directly elected Mayor, who is also a local government executive leader. The Mayor of Bristol is responsible for the area covered by Bristol City Council. The other two WECA councils, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire, currently have Council Leaders responsible for their council areas.

There are also Civic Mayors in Bristol and Bath and in towns across the area (such as Midsomer Norton) – their role is ceremonial and they perform a similar function to chairs of parish and town councils. A Lord Mayor is a civic or ceremonial leader, usually elected by the local council. He or she has no decision-making powers.

How much does the Regional Mayor get paid?

An independent remuneration panel recommended an allowance of £66,788 per annum.

What checks and scrutiny are the Regional Mayor subject to?

The 2016 Devolution Bill requires all combined authorities to set up at least one overview and scrutiny committee.

WECA scrutiny committee is made up of  members from the constituent members of the Combined Authority – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City and South Gloucestershire councils. The committee has the power to suspend decisions put forward by the Regional Mayor and combined authority cabinet.

The scrutiny committee members  are selected on a politically-proportionate basis, based on population.

WECA continues to work closely with North Somerset Council, building on a legacy of successful joint working between the four authorities. North Somerset will send along representatives to meetings to comment on items that affect them, but will not be full voting members of the WECA scrutiny committee.

What is WECA and how is WECA funded?

Our councils  – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire; the Local Enterprise Partnership and businesses came together to seek devolution because they could see the value in this new way of doing things, looking beyond council boundaries to benefit people who live and work in the region.

WECA was established early 2017 and the first West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, elected in May 2017.

As a result of devolution, significant powers and funding were transferred to our region through the West of England Combined Authority and the West of England Mayor. These new powers mean action is being taken in the region to address our challenges.

In total £1.15bn of new government funding has been secured for the WECA region, because we have a Combined Authority.

How are funds allocated?

The £900m WECA Investment Fund is invested in regional priority schemes that support our Local Industrial Strategy and Regional Recovery Plan.

This is subject to five-year Gateway Review by Government, whereby we have to demonstrate ‘additionality’ and delivery against core regional priorities.

The first Gateway review will be concluded by government in early 2021 which and will unlock the next five years (£150m) of Investment Funding. The report submitted by SQW, who were contracted to undertake Gateway Reviews for all Combined Authorities, is extremely positive about WECA’s progress.

What does WECA do?

WECA works to improve the lives of the people who live, work and travel in the West of England.

This involves:

How are decisions made by the Regional Mayor and West of England Combined Authority?

The West of England Combined Authority meets in public four times a year.

The Regional Mayor has one vote and so do other voting members. Decisions by the West of England Combined Authority will be decided by a majority of the members, subject to that majority including the vote of the Regional Mayor, unless otherwise set out in legislation.

The West of England Joint Committee meets at the same time; this committee includes North Somerset Council.

What is the Local Enterprise Partnership and how does it relate to WECA?

WECA supports the Local Enterprise Partnership, which brings the voice of business to our strategic decision-making.  The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership covers the WECA region as well as North Somerset. Together, WECA and LEP aim to deliver economic growth for the region and address some of our challenges, such as productivity and skills, housing and transport.

Does WECA have councillors? 

WECA itself does not have councillors, however, the WECA Committee, chaired by the Regional Mayor, is made up of the Leaders and Mayor from WECA’s three constituent councils, which are Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council. Councillors elected to serve on WECA’s constituent councils (Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council) are also appointed to serve on WECA committees.

What committees does WECA have? 

Decision taking committees:

WECA Committee:

The WECA Committee is chaired by the Regional Mayor, and is made up of the Leaders and Mayor from WECA’s three constituent councils, which are Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council. The Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership also attends committee meetings in a non-voting capacity.  The WECA Committee takes key decisions on matters affecting WECA including funding projects through the regional Investment Fund.

 West of England Joint Committee:

The WECA Committee is chaired by the Regional Mayor, and is made up of the Leaders and Mayor from the West of England councils, which are Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council and North Somerset Council. The Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), also attends committee meetings in a non-voting capacity.  The Joint Committee takes key decisions on matters affecting WECA, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and North Somerset Council.

Other committees:

WECA Overview & Scrutiny Committee:

The WECA Overview & Scrutiny Committee is made up of 11 councillors drawn from across WECA’s three constituent councils and is chaired currently by Cllr Stephen Clarke (Bristol City Council). It’s role is to review and scrutinise the work of WECA; it can also make reports or recommendations to the decision-taking committees. 3 councillors from North Somerset Council are observers at these meetings and able to comment on matters that affect North Somerset.

WECA Audit Committee:

The Audit Committee comprises 12 members, 11 councillors drawn from across WECA’s three constituent councils and one independent member.   Its role is to provide independent assurance to the Combined Authority on its governance, internal control and risk management arrangements and to oversee the statutory financial reporting process.

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