With all the fuss around the EU Referendum, its easy to forget (but important to remember) that Local Government is a key part of our democratic fabric. Remember those local elections a few weeks ago?
Inspired by OSCAR Research‘s effort to record the public sector landscape, the Democracy Club‘s work to capture local election results, I wanted to explore what we know from public data about our local political constituition, starting with England.
So in my own time, as a personal challenge and just for fun I’ve built this web application.
The app blends ward-level election results from Democracy Club, with a Local Authority-level dataset kindly provided by OSCAR research. If you notice errors or discrepancies in the data, please contact the relevant data owners and I’m sure they would be happy to correct the source: which I would then reapply in my visualisation.
Notice that for those councils governed by a political party – i.e. not “No Overall Control” – the table and map indicates the strength of the controlling party’s majority. This is based on my own unscientific calculations using the following rules:
- A Strong Majority, where the controlling party holds more than 80% of the total seats on the Council
- A Moderate Majority, where the controlling party holds between 60% and 80% of the seats.
- A Weak Majority, where the controlling party holds less than 60% of the seats.
Notice too that you Ward-level results from the May 2016 elections (as captured by Democracy Club volunteers) are available for councils listed in the table and marked with the magnifying glass icon. To access these results, click on the council’s name. After a short pause, you should see a screen like the one below.
The table and map are colour-coded according to the elected candidate’s politicial affiliation. Wards that were not contested in May 2016 are shaded in transparent teal colour on the map. Where more than one candidate has been elected to serve a ward, the map will instead show coloured squares indicating each candidate’s political affilation – like this example, for Watford Council. As you browse around the app, you may uncover inconsistencies between the OSCAR and Democracy Club sources. This is understandable – the two sources are not synchronised -and we should applaud both organisations for their work to provide open datasets.
In some cases, I’ve found mismatches in Ward codes used in Democracy Club’s results datasets, and corresponding codes in the map boundary data (which I’ve taken from Ordnance Survey’s October 2014 Boundary-Line product): check out Warrington Council’s data, and you’ll see what I mean. I will be working with Democracy Club to sort this out. Thanks for bearing with me.
If anyone knows how to do that, please get in touch. Alternatively, you could join me in asking those nice people at Democracy Club to switch on JSON-P in their APIs.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the app. I have some ideas for additional sources and features. What would you like to see next?