POLLING stations have opened across Essex in a crucial set of elections across the county and across Britain.

On what has been dubbed Super Thursday, polling stations opened at 7am across the UK in the largest test of political opinion outside a general election.

Elections are taking place at both borough and county level in Essex, as well as the election for the new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for the county.

There are district elections in Colchester, Basildon, Southend, Rochford, Castle Point as well as by-elections in Tendring and Braintree.

All of Essex County Council's 75 seats are also up for grabs.

Some elections are being counted on Thursday, some Friday and the PFCC result is not set to be announced until Saturday.

Estimated declaration times have always come with a warning they could be taken only as a rough guide and were subject to change in the light of new information.

However, in the case of the May 2021 elections, they have been especially difficult to produce because of the circumstances of the pandemic, as authorities are unsure how long it will take to count votes while keeping to social distancing requirements.

Although voting ends at 10pm on Thursday, the final results are not expected until Monday.

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Measures are being in place to lower the risk of Covid-19, including one-way systems and hand sanitising points.

Councils across Essex have released safety advice ahead of the elections.

Voters will be asked to:

  • Wear a face covering (unless exempt)
  • Use hand sanitiser provided when you enter and exit
  • Bring their own pen or pencil but clean pencils will be made available.
  • Keep to social distancing guidelines and follow any one way systems in place
  • There will also be a limit to the number of voters allowed in the polling station at any one time.

But councils continue to remind residents that polling stations will be a safe place to vote.

Have you voted this morning?

One of the best things about local elections is it means the return of Dogs at Polling Stations.

Send any photos of your pooch doing their civic duty to robbie.bryson@newsquest.co.uk.