AFTER months of campaigning, the countdown to this year’s local elections is over.

Thousands of Hampshire residents will head to the polls today to choose who should represent them and govern the local authorities in their area.

Seats are up for grabs in Southampton, Winchester, Test Valley, the New Forest and Eastleigh.

By tomorrow residents will know the councillors who have been elected to sit on these councils and represent them for the next years.

Most of the 16 seats up for grabs in Southampton will be contested by serving councillors.

Among the candidates running in this year’s elections in the city are deputy council leader Jacqui Rayment (Labour), cabinet member for homes and culture Satvir Kaur (Labour) and leader of the Conservative party Dan Fitzhenry.

They will stand for Bevois, Shirley and Harefield ward respectively.

But some wards in the city, such as Redbridge, could see new councillors this year. All seats are up for grabs in the New Forest and Test Valley.

As reported, current Test Valley Borough Council leader Phil North and Cllr Phil Lashbrook have already been declared elected to represent Bourne Valley and Bellinger respectively after the two wards were uncontested.

Meanwhile, this year’s vote has the potential to shake up Winchester City Council, due to a number of councillors stepping down in their wards, and two big-hitters going up against each other for one seat.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, current leader of Winchester City Council, will hope to re-secure her Wonston and Micheldever seat.

Borough council elections will also be held in Eastleigh for all areas, except Botley. Polling stations will open at 7am today and close at 10pm.