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Election day arrives





The local elections and national referendum are upon us, with 96 polling stations across West Berkshire

AFTER weeks of hearing all about party politics and voting reform, the time has come for the electorate to decide on who to vote for and how people should vote in future.

The people of West Berkshire go to the polls today (Thursday) to elect local representatives on the district council, with 142 candidates vying for 52 seats across 30 wards.

West Berkshire Council is currently made up of 35 Conservative councillors, 15 Liberal Democrat councillors and two vacancies following the death of Keith Lock (Lib Dem, Mortimer) and the resignation of Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central).

However, alongside the Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates, the Labour party, UK Independence party, Apolitical Democrats and three independent candidates are all represented at the local elections this time around, which will take place at 96 polling stations, all of which will be open between 7am and 10pm.

Elections are also being held for Newbury Town Council and Thatcham Town Council, together with five other parishes in West Berkshire - Aldermaston, Brimpton, Stanford Dingley, Stratfield Mortimer and Welford.

Meanwhile, voters will also take to the polls as part of the national referendum to decide whether or not to adopt the Alternative Vote (AV) system for future parliamentary elections.

Currently, MPs are elected by the first-past-the-post system, which sees the candidate receiving the most votes elected to Parliament.

However, the alternative vote system allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, which sees the candidate with the fewest votes drop out and their votes redistributed to the voter's second choice.

This process is then repeated until one candidate has more than 50 per cent of the vote and is declared the winner.

The referendum has caused division among the political parties both nationally and locally, although the final decision will be made by the public, who will vote ‘yes' or ‘no' to AV at the polls today (Thursday).

More than 115,000 people are registered to vote in West Berkshire and at the previous local elections in 2007, turnout surged seven points to 45 per cent.

The count for this year's local elections will take place from 9.30am tomorrow (Friday) at Newbury Racecourse, with the first results anticipated from about 11.30am.

All results for the district council and town and parish council elections are expected to be declared by about 3pm, barring recounts, while the counting of the referendum votes will begin at 4pm.

There will, however, be no local declaration of the referendum count.

The result will be sent directly to the Electoral Commission and a national result is expected to be declared tomorrow evening (Friday).

For live coverage of the results, as they happen, log back on to Newburytoday.co.uk tomorrow.



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