Referenda - general information

UK-wide, national and regional referendums

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) establishes a fixed legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held across the UK, or a referendum held in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland. It also applies to regional referendums within England. A recent Act of Parliament has enabled the holding of referendums on regional assemblies in England.

Mayoral referendums

The Local Government Act 2000 set out a major change in the way local authorities in England and Wales are run. Most local authorities, except some of the smaller district councils in the area of a county council, operate executive arrangements. There are three types of executive arrangement set out in the Act, two of which involve a directly elected Mayor: Mayor and Cabinet, and Mayor and Council Manager. The other involves a Leader (who is elected by councillors) and Cabinet. (Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, after consultation with residents, opted for this third style of arrangement.)

Local authorities consult on which arrangements local people want. If there is a proposal to have a Mayor, the local authority must hold a binding referendum. Many councils in England have already conducted consultations with local people on this issue. Local residents can also require a Mayoral Referendum by organising a petition signed by 5% of local electors or more (10% or more in Wales).

Further information on a Mayoral Referendum is available on the Electoral Commission website.

Other referendums

Referendums are now regularly used by local authorities to test public opinion on local issues. These referendums are not regulated by law and we have no responsibility for the conduct or other aspects of such referendums.

Contact details

Electoral Services team

If you have an enquiry about electoral services, send a message to the Electoral Services Team

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