Thousands heading to the polls today

South Shields By-Election voters at Polling Station's across the town
South Shields By-Election voters at Polling Station's across the town

People in Amber Valley will join millions across the UK today (Thursday) as they vote in the European and local council elections in England and Northern Ireland.

All 73 UK seats in the European Parliament - the EU’s only directly elected body - are up for grabs, along with 4,216 seats on local councils, including a third on Amber Valley, also being contested.

Polling stations opened at 7am today and will remain open until 10pm tonight.

There are elections on 161 councils in England and 11 in Northern Ireland.

Results for the local elections will come on Friday, while results for the European elections will be announced late on Sunday. We will aim to get the results online as soon as possible so check this website for updates.

The last European elections took place in 2009. Voting will take place in the EU’s other 27 member states over the next four days, with 751 MEPs in total being selected. Today also sees voting take place in the Netherlands.

In England, a third of seats are being contested on dozens of district and unitary authorities and in the 36 metropolitan boroughs, including Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, South and West Yorkshire, Merseyside and the West Midlands.

In London, every seat on all 32 London boroughs is up for election - the first time this has happened since the day of the 2010 general election.

Voters will also choose mayors in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Watford.

In Northern Ireland, voters will elect 462 representatives to 11 so-called “super districts” following a reorganisation that took place in 2012, reducing the number of councils from 26 previously.

There are no local elections in Scotland or Wales.

The rainy weather this morning was set to continue, forecasters say, which will make for a very wet trip to the polling booths for some.

We want you views on what can be done to improve turn-outs at such elections too. Leave us a mesaage.