VOTERS go to the polls to fill a single seat in a North East council area today (Thursday June 16), six weeks after the rest of the electorate.

The vote in the Copt Hill ward on Sunderland City Council was postponed prior to the original polling day, on Thursday May 5, following the death of UKIP candidate Reg Coulson in the lead up to the local elections.

Council returning officer Patrick Melia said: “Arrangements were put in place for the rescheduled poll after the sad death of Mr Coulson.

“The election is an important opportunity for electors to have their say on who represents the ward and community of Copt Hill.

Copt Hill, in the council’s Coalfield area, takes in parts of Houghton-le-Spring and Hetton-le-Hole, but also features the nearby villages of Newbottle, Philadelphia and Herrington Burn

It has 8,991 electors, 3,905 registered for a postal vote.

Postal votes from the cancelled May 5 poll are not valid and new poll cards have ben sent out to all registered voters.

Those postal voters who have not returned their vote can hand it in at any of the six polling stations in use across the ward.

Read more: Analysis of the 2022 local elections

Five candidates are contesting the Labour-held seat, with defending councillor Tracy Dodds seeking re-election against Mary Ann Boddy, for the Liberal Democrats, Conservative candidate Patricia Francis, Independent Kathleen Pearson and Andrew Robertson, for the Green Party.

Regardless of the outcome, Labour, with 41 of the 75 seats on the council, will retain power, ahead of the Conservatives, with 18 seats, the Liberal Democrats, 14, and one Independent.

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