British Local Elections Database

Lead Research Organisation: University of Plymouth
Department Name: School of Government

Abstract

The British Local Elections Database (BLED) at the UK Data Archive is a unique resource covering more than 200,000 local election results in England, Wales and Scotland over the period from 1889-2002. Nowhere else are results from individual local authorities centrally collated or made available for ready download, analysis and linkage with other data sources.

The Database has proved a popular research tool with in excess of 200 downloads (statistics supplied by UK Data Archive, August 2013) and it has been 'the second most popular study in the History Data Service collection' (email from Richard Deswarte, Head of the History Data Service, UK Data Archive, October 2009).

The main objective of the current project is simply to add more than 75,000 recent results from 2003-2015 to the existing database. In addition, each electoral ward will be provided with an identifier enabling it to be matched with both 2011 census output and the 2010/2015 parliamentary constituency of which it forms a part.

The project also aims to meet a desire for easier public access to the historical record of local election results. This will be achieved by publishing summary and ward results data for each year as well as an electoral history of each local authority since at least 1973. Access will primarily be through the University of Plymouth's website, in particular the pages maintained by the investigators under the auspices of the University's Elections Centre -see www.plymouth.ac.uk/elections.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from the research? It is clear from the record of users and downloads that this resource has a currency beyond that of political scientists studying elections. For example, economists, geographers, historians, and sociologists have all used it to provide key, but otherwise hard or impossible to access data for their analyses on a range of topics including the siting of supermarkets, access to services and deprivation, detailed studies of one place or period of time in history, and the provision and impact of public housing.

Outside academia, a variety of public bodies including the House of Commons Library, the Electoral Commission, and the Local Government Association use such data both to inform their own memberships and to assist with policy analyses. The data are also used by political actors and journalists to enhance public understanding of elections and election results through being able to compare present trends with past events, and by opinion polling companies to assist in sample design and checking.

Crucially, the proposed web-based platform will also provide interested members of the general public (including councillors and local candidates) with ready access to this information for the first time.

How will they benefit from this research? A refreshed database and new internet platform is likely to increase the amount of use and to broaden the type of user. This will improve the intelligence on which those listed above base their various analyses and potentially enhance the quality of public information and debate.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description These data comprise the largest and most accurate record available of British local election results. As such they contribute widely to coverage of elections and electoral change in the media, by lobby groups and other ngos, and by local and national government organisations such as the Local Government Association.
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Title Elections Centre website 
Description This live website (www.electionscentre.co.uk) draws together a huge range of data relating to local elections in Britain. It enables users to search for and download information and, in limited cases, allows for the analysis of time series data. New data and several new features have been added during the past year (2017-18) The website is designed as a public facing resource and complements the British Local Elections database. An earlier version of the latter is available from the UK Data Archive; an updated version, the other part of the outputs from this grant, will be deposited shortly. This will contain local election results up to and including 2017 i.e. beyond the scope of the original grant. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The website launched in November 2015. In December 2015 it received more than 6000 hits. In February 2017 there were still 2,568 hits by academics, policy makers, think tanks, local authorities, and the general public. Year on year stats are: 2015 9,381 2016 30,932 2017 32,000 2018 to date 5,300 Total hits: 45,670. 
URL http://www.electionscentre.co.uk