Gone are the days when councils counted through the night to bring you the local election results as fast as they could.
The winners of this year’s contests are being announced over a period of 24 hours, with the final outcome not likely to be clear until early Saturday morning.
For election buffs, all of this means it’s something of a tricky business deciding if and when to stay up, if and when to go in late to work or come home early, and when to watch out for the really exciting results.
To help, I’ve compiled a list of all the expected declaration times.
While there are a few key results due on Thursday night, the bulk of activity will be during daylight hours on Friday. But if you fancy trying to catch all the action, there’s a handy interlude on Friday morning when next to nothing will be happening: ideal for a reviving nap.
A reminder that a total of 161 councils are holding elections: all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 74 non-metropolitan districts and 19 unitary authorities.
Polls open at 7am and close at 10pm.
(Results from the European elections, which are being held at the same time, will not be counted until Sunday and not announced until after 10pm on Sunday night.)
Thursday 11.45pm – Friday 2am
The very first result is expected at around 11.45pm on Thursday night from the safe Tory council of Broxbourne. Two more Tory strongholds are due just after midnight: Brentwood and Fareham.
Four ultra-safe Labour metropolitan councils are expected around 12.30am: South Tyneside, Sunderland, Tameside and Wigan. We’ll also hear from Cannock Chase, Castle Point and Nuneaton & Bedworth.
The first really interesting result is due around 1.30am from Southend-on-Sea, where the Tory council has a majority of one. The Labour strongholds of Liverpool, Hartlepool and Kingston-upon-Hull are also due, as are Hertsmere and Maidstone.
Then things start to pick up.
Our first news from London is due around 2am, in the shape of results from Croydon and Redbridge: both Tory councils and Labour targets. A steady stream should now begin, taking us right round England. Get ready for Basingstoke & Deane, Bolton, Carlisle (a key Labour target), Eastleigh, Gosport, Harlow, Havant, Lincoln, Rochdale, Rotherham, Runnymede, Rushmoore, Sandwell, Stevenage, Swindon, Tamworth, Tandridge, Wandsworth, Welwyn Hatfield and Worcester (another one to watch for).
We’re due a couple of big beasts at 3am: Birmingham and Bristol. Everyone’s favourite marginal Thurrock is also expected, along with Colchester, Derby, Gloucester, Hastings, Ipswich, Rochford and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Peterborough should declare around 3.30am, shortly followed by Basildon, Cambridge, Enfield, Haringey, Purbeck, Sutton and Walsall.
The pace slows around dawn. A couple of London council are due at 5am: Bexley and Merton. Coventry, Daventry, Portsmouth and Southampton should also declare.
Three more London councils are due around breakfast time: Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond-upon-Thames and Hammersmith & Fulham.
Then there’s a pause while everyone who counted overnight goes to bed, and a new shift of clerks clocks on to start tallying the votes everywhere else. Time for a rest. Zzzzzzz.
Friday 12pm – 5pm
Fresh results should start trickling in from 12pm, beginning with Craven, Exeter, Huntingdonshire, Rossendale and Rugby. Dudley, Halton, Hyndburn and Wirral are due around 12.30pm.
We’ll hear from some big metropolitan councils around 1pm: Doncaster, Kirklees, Knowsley (will it still be 63 seats out of 63 for Labour?) Sefton and Trafford.
Burnley, Crawley, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Pendle, Redditch, Solihull, Warrington, Weymouth & Portland and Worthing are also due, as is Westminster in London.
Manchester and Salford lead the charge from 2pm. Then the pace starts to pick up: Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Cheltenham, Cherwell, Hart, Hounslow, North Tyneside, Norwich, Oxford, Reigate & Banstead, St Albans, St Helens, Three Rivers, Wolverhampton and Wyre Forest should all declare around now.
Things begin to liven up in London as well. Four councils are due from 3pm: Barking & Dagenham, Epping Forest, Islington and Lambeth.
Leeds and Sheffield should have finished counting by now, as should Bury, Elmbridge, North Hertfordshire, Plymouth. Reading, Stroud, West Oxfordshire and Winchester.
A rush of councils should declare around 4pm. In London, Brent, Bromley, Hackney (which is also electing its mayor), Havering and Hillingdon are due.
We’ve some more northern Labour fortresses: Blackburn with Darwen, Harrogate, Oldham, Wakefield and West Lancashire.
Also due are Adur, Amber Valley, Great Yarmouth, Milton Keynes, Mole Valley, North East Lincolnshire, South Lakeland, Tunbridge Wells and Wokingham.
Around 4.30pm we should hear from two more metropolitan giants: Gateshead and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Friday 5pm – Saturday 2am
Between 5pm and 6pm we’ve another set of London boroughs due: Barnet, Greenwich, Harrow, Newham, Tower Hamlets (both of which will also announce elected mayors) and Waltham Forest.
Bradford, Calderdale and Stockport, all minority councils and the last of the metropolitan boroughs, should declare around now. Preston and Slough are also due, as are Chorley, South Cambridgeshire, Woking and Watford – another council announcing an elected mayor.
From 6.30pm the last batch of London councils are due: Southwark, Camden, Ealing, Kensington & Chelsea plus – possibly as late as 2am on Saturday morning, Lewisham, where both the council and the mayor are being elected.
I reckon we won’t really be able to talk about which party has had a “good” or “bad” set of local elections until mid-afternoon on Friday.
But I’ll be rounding up some of the key winners, losers, trends and surprises from Friday morning onwards.