Parliamentary elections



Vestry meetings were regular gatherings to decide issues of local interest. On occasion polls were taken. For instance, the controversial matter of imposing a church rate was settled after four days of polling on 24 November 1836 by 1,702 in favour and 1,389 against.

October 1928
Sunday cinema opening
Hove Borough Council had resisted Sunday cinema opening from the start—a stance upheld by the Divisional Court of Appeal in March 1915. A vote in the Council in June 1926 retained the ban by one vote. Four years before national legislation permitted referendums on the subject, Hove Borough Council arranged a local poll (technically not a referendum) as the equivalent of a town meeting.

share of share of
votes electorate
n % %
Polling cards issued 20,890
for 6,579 53.7 31.5
against 5,664 46.3 27.1
'turnout' 58.6


5 June 1975
Continuing membership of the European Economic Community
The first ever national referendum was in fulfilment of a pledge in the Labour Party's manifesto for the 1974 general election to allow the people to decide if the UK should remain a member of the EEC, which it has joined under the Conservative government in 1973. Nationally, in a 65 per cent turnout, the vote in favour of continued membership was 67 per cent. Votes were declared by county.

Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (The Common Market)?
East Sussex share of share of
votes electorate
n % %
Yes 249,780 74.15 48.84
No 86,198 25.59 16.85
Spoiled ballot papers 775 0.23 0.15
turnout 65.86
electorate 511,437


18 October 2001
Directly elected mayor
Local authorities were required by the Local Government Act 2000 c.22 to move from the committee model then prevailing to an executive model, led by an elected mayor if the local electorate approved. Accordingly referendums have been held to date (April 2013) in 37 local authorities, 13 of which were in favour of an elected mayor, 24 against. Brighton and Hove's referendum was the first, and so far only, all-postal vote held in the city.

share of share of
votes electorate
n % %
Postal votes cast 59,938
Yes 22,724 37.9 12.0
No 37,214 62.1 19.6
'turnout' 31.6


5 May 2011
Alternative vote
One of the conditions imposed by the Liberal Democrats in return for forming a coalition with the Conservative Party was that a referendum should be held about replacing 'first-past-the-post' elections with the alternative vote (AV). The referendum was held on the same day as many local elections, including that for Brighton & Hove City Council. The only parliamentary constituencies to vote in favour of change were six London boroughs and four others around the country: Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh Central and Glasgow Kelvin. Brighton & Hove, however, had the narrowest margin against of any constituency.

At present, the UK uses the 'first-past-the-post' system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the 'alternative vote' system be used instead?
votes electorate
n % %
Yes 43,948 49.86 22.53
No 44,198 50.14 22.65
turnout 45.18


22 May 2014
Council tax
A referendum on a 4.75 per cent increase in council tax was proposed by the minority Green Party adminstration, subject to agreement by the full council at its meeting on 27 February 2014. Any local authority that wishes to implement 'an excessive increase in council tax' (defined for the current year as being more than two per cent) must hold a referendum under the coalition government's Localism Act 2011, which amends the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The date set was that of the elections for the European Parliament. The election would have cost £230,000, compared with £350,000 if held on a different day from the European election. In the end a settlement was reached and the referendum was not held.


23 June 2016
European Union (Brexit)
The referendum on whether to remain in or leave the European Union was the most bitterly contested and divisive of any election in modern times. Nationally the result, by a relatively small margin, was to leave. Locally the result was very different.

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
votes electorate
Remain 100,648 68.54 50.76
Leave 46,027 31.35 23.21
electorate 198,293
verified ballot papers 146,840
ballot papers counted 146,829
rejected ballots 154
Remain 16,141,241 48.07 34.71
Leave 17,410,742 51.85 37.44
electorate 46,500,001
votes cast 33,577,342
rejected ballots 25,359
turnout 72.15

Source: Electoral Commission

Page updated 27 March 2019