Voting to decide every council seat in Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester opened this morning, along with dozens of other local authority elections across the region. [Full list of NW council elections]
There is all to play for in CWAC where the ruling Conservative group, led by Cllr Mike Jones, has a slim majority over Labour. There are 75 elected members and currently 42 are Conservative, 32 Labour and one Liberal Democrat.
At a national level, the General Election also sets up an intriguing race in the marginal seat of City of Chester, which was Labour from 1997 to 2010 before being won by the Conservative's Stephen Mosley with only a 2,500 majority.
In Cheshire East, the whole council is also up for election. The Conservative group has a larger majority than in CWAC. The 2011 election produced 52 Conservative councillors out of 82; Labour 16, Other 10 and Liberal Democrats four.
Conservative leader Cllr Michael Jones has faced criticism of his handling of housing plans in the borough where dozens of appeals have been lost at public inquiry since he took office in 2012. Jones himself is a relatively new councillor having been elected in 2011.
The borough has a history of independent candidates polling strongly and there are vocal campaigns for independents again in areas including Knutsford, Poynton and Wilmslow.
Nationally, Tatton is held by Chancellor George Osborne where he polled 56% of the vote in 2010 and holds a 14,000 majority.
Elsewhere, in Liverpool the Green party will be hoping to boost its official opposition status by adding to its current tally of four councillors.
There are elections in several council areas where there is no overall control: High Peak, Stockport, Lancaster, West Lancashire among them.
Breakdown of local elections in North West being held today
One third of seats up for election
- Bolton (previous control Labour)
- Bury (Labour)
- Calderdale (No overall control)
- Knowsley (Labour)
- Liverpool (Labour)
- Manchester (Labour)
- Oldham (Labour)
- Rochdale (Labour)
- St Helens (Labour)
- Salford (Labour)
- Sefton (Labour)
- Stockport (No overall control)
- Tameside (Labour)
- Trafford (Conservative)
- Wigan (Labour)
- Wirral (Labour)
- Blackpool (Labour)
- Cheshire East (Conservative)
- Cheshire West & Chester (Conservative)
- One third of council
- Halton (Labour)
- Warrington (Labour)
Non-metropolitan districts with whole councils up for election include Cumbrian boroughs of Allerdale (no overall control), Barrow-in-Furness (Labour), Copeland (Labour), along with Fylde (Conservative), High Peak (no overall control), Lancaster (No overall control), Ribble Valley (Conservative) and Wyre (Conservative). District councils with one third of the seats up for election include Burnley, Carlisle, Preston and Hyndburn, all Labour, along with Pendle and West Lancashire, both no overall control.
A directly elected mayor is due to be elected in Copeland, west Cumbria, a new post.