THE count has started in the first all-out elections in Winchester for 14 years.

Every seat has been contested at the city council following boundary changes which has seen the number of seats drop from 57 to 45.

The votes were cast on Thursday, Ascension Day, and the count to reveal which political party is on the up starts at 10am in Winchester Guildhall. Results are expected to be announced from early afternoon.

The votes were validated on Thursday evening but the count for the police and crime commissioner took precedence.

The current make-up of the Tory-controlled city council is 33 Conservatives, 22 Liberal Democrats and two Labour. It would be a major surprise if the Lib Dems grabbed the half a dozen or so needed to snatch a majority and take overall control that they last held in 2004.

As well as the three main parties there are also 10 Green candidates, six UKIP and six independents, five of whom are standing under the banner of Winchester Independents.

The group has been formed in recent weeks following concerns over the collapsed Silver Hill scheme, the new leisure centre and the impending Station Approach development.