A BIG day of elections has got underway today (May 2) across the Dudley borough where voters will decide the fate of five candidates.

Polling day could mean significant changes in control of the authority with every seat in the council chamber up for grabs.

As well as councillors, people are being asked to vote for the West Midlands mayor and also a police and crime commissioner, meaning they can cast up to five votes.

Dudley Council has 24 wards with three councillors representing each one, ballot papers for this election will be lilac in colour and people can choose up to three candidates from the the list on the paper.

Votes will be counted on May 3 and results for each ward will be declared throughout the day.

By late afternoon the shape of the entire council should start to emerge.

The authority is currently run by the Conservative Party who have more councillors than everyone else put together.

Dudley is however prone to changing hands and Labour think they can turn the tables on the Tories and take control.

There are also Lib Dems and representatives from other parties as well as independents in the mix.

If the result is close there may be a hung council where no single group has an overall majority, after that there will be deals done to create a coalition.

This is most likely to mean one of the big parties running the council with support from smaller groups or independents who, in return, will influence policy and decisions.

The eventual winners can look forward to two years in control because there will be no more council elections until 2026.

The mayoral election looks like a two horse race between the current holder of the office, Andy Street for the Conservatives or Labour’s Richard Parker.

The mayoral ballot paper is yellow and the result will be seen as a big indicator of how people feel about the Conservative government in Westminster and how they will vote in the coming general election.

The role of West Midlands police and crime commissioner is also to be decided, ballot papers for this election are Green.

The incumbent commissioner is Labour’s Simon Foster who is being challenged by Tom Byrne for the Conservatives.

Counting for the mayoral and police commissioner roles will take place on May 4.