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Election 2015: Cheshire's long-awaited council votes

Warrington street Image copyright Steven Haslington
Image caption Labour runs Warrington Borough Council with a majority of 32

They're responsible for mending the roads, regenerating our town centres and collecting our bins - but the elections for our local councils have inevitably been somewhat overshadowed over the last few months during the Westminster campaign.

But people in the east and west of Cheshire have been waiting for longer than most to have their say about what happens locally.

None of the seats on Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West & Chester Council have been contested for four years now, whereas in many other local authorities there are elections for a third of councillors nearly every year.

That's still the case in Warrington, but the borough council there will soon be joining its Cheshire neighbours in using the "all-out" system.

Cheshire West & Chester Council has been Conservative-controlled since the authority replaced the county council and three district councils in 2009.

Image copyright JEFF BUCK
Image caption A loss of five Conservative councillors at Cheshire West & Chester would push the authority into no overall control

Since the last contest in 2011, the Tories have had a majority of nine - with 42 seats compared to Labour's 32 and the Liberal Democrats' one.

A loss of just five councillors would push the authority into no overall control. With some councillors for both the main two parties on shaky majorities, we could see some significant change.

'A big impact'

Given that there have not been any council-wide elections for four years, the unknown factor is UKIP.

The party won in the Cheshire West & Chester Council area in last year's European elections, and may be expected to win members in some wards.

Even in wards where they don't win, they could still have a big impact on who does.

On the other side of the county, Cheshire East Council has also been Tory-run since it was established six years ago.

They have a much healthier majority here - with 49 councillors, dominating the council chamber in comparison to Labour's 14 seats, the Liberal Democrats' four and UKIP's two.

One problem for the incumbent party, though, is the number of independent members who were elected last time, some of whom are popular local figures who represent areas which may seem more naturally Conservative-inclined.

Improved turnout?

UKIP is equally untested in Cheshire East - with the party's two members having defected from the Tories. But with the party coming second to Labour in every seat in Crewe's town council election of 2013, the party will expect a significant share of the vote - even if it's not represented by a huge number of seats.

Things are not so exciting in Warrington. With Labour running the authority on a majority of 32 over their nearest rivals the Liberal Democrats, the party will remain the biggest party whatever happens, given only 19 seats will be contested.

They can't rely on the Lib Dem vote disappearing, as it's held up in parts of the borough in recent years.

With this election happening on the same day as the parliamentary election, it seems likely that the turnout will be up compared to 2011.

The hopes for the two main parties in these contests in Cheshire will be that voters tick the same boxes in both elections - giving them an advantage over UKIP and the Liberal Democrats.

But that may not be a habit they'd want to rely on for much longer, given how many more people are expected to support UKIP compared to five years ago.

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