Voting is underway in East Renfrewshire as residents elect the councillors who will represent them for the next five years.

A total of 42 candidates are in contention, with the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system being used to elect a total of 18 councillors in the area’s five wards.

Once the results have been declared, the winners will be tasked with making vital decisions on local services that affect people across East Renfrewshire, such as schools, roads and housing.

The STV system, which has been in place for council elections since 2007, allows voters to list their choices in numerical order.

People can vote for as many, or as few, candidates as they wish. For example, marking a 1 next to their first choice, a 2 next to their second choice, a 3 next to their third choice and so on.

Some may wish to vote for all candidates in order, while others may opt to list only one or two candidates in order of preference.

Voting will continue at polling stations across East Renfrewshire until 10pm tonight.

Those who opted to vote by post but missed the deadline to return their ballot are able to hand it in at any polling station in the local area.

All votes will be totted up tomorrow, with the last of the results expected to be announced by 2pm.

No political party secured an overall majority in East Renfrewshire at the last vote in 2017, with the most recent administration made up of a coalition of SNP, Labour and independent councillor Danny Devlin.

The Conservatives had the largest number of councillors, with six, until Stewart Miller resigned from the party in September 2020 and sat as an independent.

That left five Conservatives, five SNP members, four from Labour and four independent councillors.

There will be no majority in 2022 either, as no party is standing enough candidates. Ten councillors are required to take overall control of the local authority.

East Renfrewshire's Conservatives are standing the most candidates, with eight. Greg Turner, who was representing the party in Barrhead, is no longer being supported after it emerged he made anti-Catholic posts online.

The SNP’s Tony Buchanan has been the council leader for the last five years and he is one of seven candidates for the party across East Renfrewshire.

Labour is standing five candidates, one in each of the area’s wards.

The Scottish Greens, who had no councillors in the last term, are also putting forward a candidate in each ward, while Alba has four.

East Renfrewshire’s Provost, Jim Fletcher, isn’t standing for re-election and neither are Labour colleague Alan Lafferty or Conservative trio Jim Swift, Charlie Gilbert and Barbara Grant. Labour’s Paul O’Kane isn’t standing either, after he was elected to Holyrood last year.

Ballot papers also include representatives from the Liberal Democrats, Independence for Scotland Party, Scottish Family Party and Freedom Alliance, with independents standing in three of the five wards.

Residents are asked to make sure they know where they need to go to cast their vote by checking their poll card in advance.

Staff are on hand at polling stations to provide help to those who need it, with large print sample ballot papers and tactile voting devices also available for those who are blind or partially sighted.

They are also following the latest public health guidance to make sure polling stations are safe places to vote.

Lorraine McMillan, Returning Officer for East Renfrewshire Council, said: “Make sure you check the information on your poll card, as your polling place might have changed since you last voted.

“You do not need your poll card to vote but we encourage you to bring it with you to make the process quicker and more efficient.”

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Make sure you get the Barrhead News next week for full results and reaction.