WORCESTER residents will head to the polls today to decide who they want in charge of their city council for the next two years.

Voting in today's local elections begins at 7am, with 12 of Worcester City Council's 35 seats up for grabs.

Polls will be held in every ward in the city except Warndon Parishes North, Warndon Parish South and St Peter's, and voters have until 10pm tonight to cast their vote.

With five Conservative, four Labour, one Liberal Democrat and two Independent seats all up for election, it promises to be a tense night for everyone at the Guildhall.

The ruling Conservative group will be anxious to regain the overall control of the council they lost in last autumn's by-election, while the other parties are keen to hold their seats and make further gains. The results are expected in about midnight.

The man in charge of the election, city council monitoring officer John Scarborough, said it was important that as many people turned out to vote as possible.

"We would encourage people to exercise their right to vote because of the importance of local democracy," he said.

"The council provides many important services in the community. We've got the count tonight and while we will try to announce the results as quickly as possible, the main priority will be to make sure everything is carried out fairly and properly."

Thousands of Worcester residents have already cast their vote through the postal voting system - by yesterday afternoon the council had received more than 4,200 postal votes.

Last year's overall turnout was about 35 per cent and Mr Scarborough said something similar could be expected today.

"There's no reason to think it will be particularly different this year," he said. "We shall just have to wait and see."

Each voter needs to check the registration code on their voting card to see which polling booth they should go to within their ward. Voters in Gorse Hill are advised to double check, as the registration boundaries within their ward have changed since last year.

Other polling booth changes from last year are in Battenhall (B3 and B4), Nunnery (G1), Rainbow Hill (H5) and Warndon (W3).

Check our comprehensive list of polling booths to make sure you know where to vote.

  • Click here for our list of wards and candidates, and read what they have to say before casting your vote.
  • Click here for our results page which will be updated live as the counts are announced late tonight.
  • Is it time for change? Vote in our online poll on the main news page here and discuss this issue in depth in our Your Say forums here.