PEOPLE were today reminded to use their vote at tomorrow's local elections.

Fifteen seats are being contested in Hartlepool with opposition leaders claiming that for the first time in a long period voters can really "make a difference".

Polling stations throughout the town will be open from 8am-9pm for residents to cast their votes.

Labour currently has a hefty majority on Hartlepool Borough Council - holding 30 of council's 47 seats.

But the main opposition party, the Liberal Democrats, reckons it can do some damage this year and knock Labour from overall control.

Labour refute what they say are "over ambitious" claims and accuse the Lib Dems of treating their supporters by contempt by not having a candidate in every ward.

The Conservative Party is not standing in five different wards, while the Liberal Democrats have decided not to contest the Throston and Seaton wards.

The leader of the opposition says a four per cent swing against Labour would give the Lib Dems the opportunity they need to form a new administration.

"We have the strongest field of candidates we have yet to achieve," said Fens councillor Arthur Preece.

"Labour will lose control of the council if it loses seven of the 13 seats it is defending this year."

Conservative Stephen Close agrees the Labour Party could lose a lot of seats at the election.

"After 25 years of Labour rule, they have become complacent and arrogant," he said.

But chairman of the local Labour Party, Coun Steve Wallace, said:"You have to be in it to win it and the Lib Dems are treating their supporters with contempt." Labour stalwarts defending their seats include Coun Bill Iseley, the town's longest-serving councillor, and the Mayor, Coun Ron Watts.

The Labour Party is fielding former councillor Kevin Cranney in the Fens Ward against incumbent Lib Dem Councillor Robert Flintoff and Tory Patricia Jones.

Of the 15 seats up for grabs, Labour hold 13 of them.

The Lib Dems reckon they can make a "significant number of gains" with hopes high in Dyke House - a seat which Reuben Atkinson missed out on by only 19 votes last year.

Coun Preece is urging people in Hartlepool looking for a change to vote for his party.

He said: "If Labour loses overall control we would no longer get daft decisions railroaded through as we do now.

"It is high time Labour control of Hartlepool came to an end. Their performance is unsatisfactory."

There are no elections this year at all in the East Durham areas served by Durham County Council, District of Easington Council and Sedgefield Borough Council.

Who is fighting for a council seatFENSKevin Henry Cranney (Labour Party)* Robert Flintoff (Liberal Democrat)Patricia Louise Jones (Conservative)ROSSMERESimeon Malcolm Reay (Conservative)Howard Davies Smith (Liberal Democrat)* James Watson (Labour Party)OWTONPatricia Raynor (Liberal Democrat)* Gladys Worthy (Labour Party)SEATON* Michael William Turner (Labour Party)Jessie Elizabeth Young (Conservative)PARKStanley Welsh Fortune (Conservative)Thomas Snowdon (Liberal Democrat)* Irene Todd (Labour Party)RIFT HOUSERaymond Walter Herbert (Liberal Democrat)* Marjorie Anne Richardson (Labour Party)BRINKBURN* William Henry Iseley (Labour Party)Liza Marie Ward (Liberal Democrat)STRANTON* Robert William Payne (Labour Party)Christopher Snowdon (Liberal Democrat)Nicolaas Alan Young (Conservative)GRANGESheila Rose Bruce (Liberal Democrat)Brenda Pearson (Conservative)* Dianne Patricia Plews (Labour Party)JACKSONThomas Alton Cherry (Liberal Democrat)* Ron Watts (Labour Party)THROSTONSharon Elizabeth Jeffries (Conservative)* Stephen David Wallace (Labour Party)DYKE HOUSEReuben Atkinson (Liberal Democrat)* Sophia Gwynneth Hanson (Labour Party)Raymond Henry Wells (Independent Conservative)ST HILDA* Bernard Michael Carr (Labour Party)Frederick Dickson (Liberal Democrat)BRUSDaphne Morris (Conservative)Mary Power (Liberal Democrat)Trevor Rogan (Labour Party)HART* Caroline Barker (Liberal Democrat)Olwyn Jacqueline O'Neill (Labour Party)Richard David Ord (Conservative)* Signifies sitting candidate