Today's the day - the elections are here!

The Guildhall, in Worcester

The polling stations are now open

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

Today, voters head to the polls to deliver their verdict on Worcester City Council and elect seven MEPs. Here, our election coverage continues with a look at the wards to watch - and why your vote could be crucial.

FROM 7am today it all gets underway - elections that will decide the new make-up of Worcester City Council and the European parliament.

An army of council staff and volunteers will descend upon 63 makeshift polling stations around the city including schools, churches, community centres, social clubs, youth hubs and even portacabins in pub car parks so people can have their say.

And with such a mammoth effort taking place, one thing the main political parties are all hoping for is a good turnout from the 61,268 people eligible to vote.

Back in 2010, buoyed by a general election and one of the nation's most hard-fought parliamentary battles between then-Labour MP Mike Foster and current incumbent Robin Walker, 64 per cent of the electorate had a say.

That fell to 44 per cent in 2011 and then dropped further to just 30 per cent in 2012, the last time the city council's make-up was in the hands of the voters.

There is a feeling the figures have bottomed out, with hopes high that Worcester will see better data this time around.

Voters going into their local polling booth today undoubtedly have more choice than ever before, including not only the traditional mainstream parties but the likes of the Greens, which are contesting all 12 city seats, UKIP, which is standing in 11 wards for the first time ever, as well as left-wing group Trades Unionists and Socialists Against the Cuts (TUSAC).

The BNP and Liberal Democrats are also involved, as well as the big two.

There is something for almost everyone - and the total tally of 61 candidates this year is the highest since 2008.

City council managing director Duncan Sharkey said: "Today is your chance to have your say on the big decisions that will have a real impact on Worcester’s future.

“Please don’t waste your democratic right – get out and use your vote.”

The politicians themselves want to see people marching to the booths, even if it might not directly benefit them.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, Tory group leader, who is not up for election, said: "It's perhaps the most difficult election to call in a very long time and every vote really will matter.

"My message is, it's your opportunity to have a say, so use it and don't lose it."

The polls close at 10pm today and then all the votes will be transported to the Guildhall for the counting to start.

The results are expected to be announced around 1am, depending on the turnout.

The results for electing seven West Midlands' MEPs to the European parliament will not be announced until after 10pm on Sunday, to coincide with other EU countries.

OUR LIVE COVERAGE

TODAY your Worcester News will be bringing you all the election news and coverage as soon as it happens.

A live blog will be running on our website from 2pm, building up to the big night with insight, analysis and anything that breaks.

It will continue right the way into the evening, with LIVE ward-by-ward results announced as and when they come in.

Full reaction and analysis of what it all means will then appear on our website in the early hours of tomorrow morning, and Saturday's Worcester News will feature an election special.

All the candidates' information and our exclusive ward profiles have also been collated together in a special election section of our site if you want to recap anything today - including the European parliament hopefuls.

Visit worcesternews.co.uk/news/election2014/results for more details.

THE WARDS TO WATCH

THE main ward to watch tonight will be Cathedral, which could even help decide which party controls the entire council.

Jabba Riaz is defending the seat he won for the Tories in 2010, but has since switched to the Labour Party and is up against former ward councillor Conservative Francis Lankester.

A shock could be on the cards in Battenhall, where the Green Party has poured in significant resources to try and wrestle it from the Tories.

With Conservative David Tibbutt retiring, Steve McKay is defending it for the party, with the Green Party's Louis Stephen pushing him hard.

Another ward to keep an eye on is Claines, where the Tories are banking on making a gain from the Lib Dems.

Liberal Democrat Ken Carpenter has stood down and activist Mel Allcott is trying to defend his old majority of just 127 against Conservative Matt Lacey.

UKIP feels it can do particularly well in St Peter's and Warndon Parish North, although winning one seat would be a shock.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE COUNTRY

Every seat in all 32 London boroughs - more than 1,800 in total - is up for grabs.

This has not happened since the day of the general election in 2010, when Labour bucked the national trend by getting 36.4 per cent of the vote to the Conservatives 34.5 per cent.

Elsewhere, seats are up for grabs in 161 English councils, although in south Worcestershire it only includes Worcester City Council.

Labour does not really need a target list for the 36 metropolitan boroughs, which include Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, South and West Yorkshire, Merseyside and the West Midlands as it already controls 29 of them.

The last time this same set of seats were contested in 2010, Labour gained control of 17 councils and the Conservatives lost four.

Nigel Farage's party will benefit from the effect of its expected strong showing in the European elections in many areas, although it is unlikely to take overall control of any councils.

The Tories tend to control unitary authorities and there are few areas where they are under serious threat.

DON'T TAKE 'SELFIES', SAY ELECTION CHIEFS

The Electoral Commission is worried the current craze for smart phone self-portraits will threaten the secrecy of the ballot.

They have issued guidelines to staff at polling stations advising them to discourage the taking of 'selfies', or any other kind of photograph in the polling station.

There may even be notices on the wall warning people about it.

Taking a picture in a polling station is not a criminal offence, but sharing of information that appears on a ballot paper, even before it has been filled in, could represent a breach of Section 66 of the Representation of the People's Act 1983, leading to a fine of up to £5,000 or a six months in jail.

It all depends on whether the photograph was shared with others and what is in it - but the Electoral Commission is not taking any chances.

Tweeting pictures of a postal ballot is also being discouraged.

Comments (2)

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8:08am Thu 22 May 14

denon says...

Tom edwards should know better there are 1/3 elections in Redditch and Wyre Forest at District level.

There is one by election in Wychavon and one by election in Malvern Hills.

So much for "Elsewhere, seats are up for grabs in 161 English councils, although in Worcestershire it only includes Worcester City Council."
Tom edwards should know better there are 1/3 elections in Redditch and Wyre Forest at District level. There is one by election in Wychavon and one by election in Malvern Hills. So much for "Elsewhere, seats are up for grabs in 161 English councils, although in Worcestershire it only includes Worcester City Council." denon
  • Score: 0

8:09am Thu 22 May 14

denon says...

Forgot that there is a Worcestershire County Council by election in Redditch too.
Forgot that there is a Worcestershire County Council by election in Redditch too. denon
  • Score: 0

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