THOUSANDS of Hartlepool residents were heading to the polls today to vote for which councillors they want to represent them.
There are seats available in all of the town’s 17 wards except Elwick, which was up for grabs last year.
Polling stations across Hartlepool opened their doors at 7am this morning and residents have until 10pm to cast their vote.
The ballot boxes will then be taken to Mill House Leisure Centre, in Raby Road, to be sorted, verified and then counted, with the results expected in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
The local elections are being held on the same day as the Alternative Vote (AV) referendum, which could see the way we elect MPs transformed.
The count for the AV referendum will start at 4pm tomorrow, again at Mill House, with the result expected around teatime.
Each of the 57 polling stations has a presiding officer as well as at least one polling clerk and an army of council and non-council staff working on the count – with 107 working on the local election count and 48 working on the referendum count.
There is also a parish council election being held in Greatham.
There is also an election for Headland Parish Council, but it is not being contested as there was insufficient nominations received for the 13 vacancies.
The borough council currently has 47 councillors plus elected Mayor Stuart Drummond.
There are 15 wards with three councillors and two wards, Elwick and Greatham, with one councillor each.
Only one seat is contested in each ward as the elections are held on a three-year cycle with the fourth year reserved for the mayoral elections.
Usually councillors are elected for four years.
But due to proposed changes to the ward boundaries by the Local Government Boundary Commission, there will be an all-out election next year.
l LOG on to www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk to see the results as they come in.
l SEE tomorrow’s Mail for full coverage of the local election results.
l It’s your vote and Mail view: Page 8