Sedgefield will pilot a postal voting system at the borough council and all town and parish councils elections on May 1.

Registered electors will be sent postal ballot papers to be returned to the council offices in Spennymoor no later than noon on May 1.

The count will begin at 2pm with the results declared later in the day. There will be no polling stations anywhere in Sedgefield borough.

Norman Vaulks, chief executive of Sedgefield Borough Council, said: "Our key objective is to make voting more accessible to the electorate, but without compromising security or public confidence.

"We are trying out this pilot scheme to make voting more convenient. It allows electors the opportunity to cast their postal vote at a time that suits them, as long as it reaches us by noon on May 1."

About two weeks before polling day, ballot papers and a pre-paid envelope will be sent to everyone on the electoral register where a contested election is taking place.

The envelope will be addressed to the person whose name appears on the electoral register for that address, which would normally be the person who was living there on October 15 last year.

Anyone whose previous address is in Sedgefield borough, but who moved after October 15 can ring the election office on freephone 0800 7838874 to obtain their vote. Those wanting to check if they are on the electoral register or want to be added to it are asked to call the same number.