No overall control

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In the context of local authorities in the United Kingdom, the term No Overall Control (abbreviated to NOC) refers to a situation in which no single political group achieves a majority of seats; and is analogous to a hung parliament. Of the 310 councils who had members up for election in the 2007 local elections, 85 (just over a quarter) resulted in a NOC administration.

Administration in NOC councils

Typically, if no party achieves overall control of a council, the largest grouping will form alliances to create an ad hoc governing coalition. Often local authorities have larger proportions of smaller party and independent members than the House of Commons, and when there is no overall control this often results in minor groups having more influence than their numbers alone would suggest.

Examples exist of alliances between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives (Birmingham City Council, Leeds City Council), Liberal Democrats and Labour (Southampton City Council until the 2008 local elections when the Conservatives gained control of the council), Conservatives and Labour in Ashfield, and between all major parties and independents or residents' associations, as in Cornwall Council. Alliances between several different parties in this context are often referred to as a "rainbow coalition".[1]

It is possible for a council to be under no overall control even when there appears to be an overall majority, in particular in the case of a majority of independents, who commonly have no collective policies when elected. This can also arise when the council members divide on other than party lines. For instance, the 2004 elections to the Isle of Anglesey County Council returned more independents than all others put together, but only Plaid Cymru maintained a party group within the council, and not all of its elected members joined the group. The remainder of the council, including some members of other political parties, formed four non-partisan groups, none of which held a majority. However, the 2008 elections resulted in a group called the Original Independents gaining an overall majority.

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