IT’S not yet 9am and there’s a steady stream of voters heading into the polling station at Sowerby, one of Hambleton district’s busiest.

Meeting and greeting residents outside while sipping a flask of coffee is long-serving councillor Peter Bardon alongside the council’s leader Mark Robson.

Just 15 yards away across the parochial hall car park from the Conservative candidates are university health sciences lecturer Jerome Wright, one of the Labour candidates, and his wife Steph Common, who moved to the village five years ago.

“We were told it was going to be slow”, says Mr Wright, “but it’s been busier than we thought.”

As voters pass through, with many stopping to have a brief chat with the candidates, there’s little interaction between the rival camps, but it’s all very civil.

Mr Bardon and Mr Robson are defending majorities of 580 and 542 from the last election, but insist they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

They have spent the last few weeks canvassing voters on their doorsteps, stressing their lack of influence over Brexit and national politics and pointing towards the district council’s record.

Mr Robson said: “I have only had a few people say they are not going to vote due to national issues, I think most people recognise that we can make a difference locally.”

Nevertheless, Mr Wright says voters in the ward are fed up of the overwhelming Tory majority elected – 27 out of 28 seats – at the previous election in 2015, and have expressed a desire for change.

He said: “People are saying they really want to do something about the monopoly on the council. If there was just one Labour councillor they would be forced to be more accountable.”

While it would be a shock if the Conservatives lost the Sowerby seats, there is greater uncertainty over those in Easingwold, Stokesley and Bagby and Thorntons.

Eleven miles along the A19, retired police officer and Conservative candidate Malcolm Taylor is on duty outside Easingwold Methodist Church alongside Labour candidate Nick Howarth Pulleyn, a director of a medical protection society.

Both the candidates are seeking election for the first time to the council which serves about 91,000 residents - and it’s also the first time in recent years that Labour has contested the seat.

Mr Howarth Pulleyn said: “We’ve been energetic making out presence known, letting people know that they do not have to have a one-party state in North Yorkshire.”