POLLS have closed and counting started in local elections across Sussex.

Voters in Adur, Worthing, Crawley and Hastings have been electing up to half of their council, while residents in Rottingdean have been voting to pick a replacement councillor following a resignation earlier this year.

Counting has begun in the by-election in Rottingdean, with results expected in the early hours of this morning.

Results in the council elections in the rest of the county will start trickling in tomorrow afternoon.

Three council elections - Crawley, Hastings and Worthing, are being closely watched nationally as “battleground” areas. Labour has been aiming to retain control in Hastings, while regaining its majority in Crawley and winning the council in Worthing for the first time ever.

A forecast by polling company YouGov predicted that, while Hastings is “leaning Labour”, Crawley and Worthing remain “too close to call”.

Battle in Worthing as Conservatives and Labour vie for control

Labour leader Keir Starmer had been out campaigning in Worthing earlier this week, saying the party had put forward a “positive case” for change in the town.

“Worthing needs change and what people want here is a council that meets their local ambition, and that’s what a Labour council would do,” he said.

However, Conservative leader of Worthing Borough Council Kevin Jenkins said that voters on the doorstep had expressed animosity towards Labour over the recent bin strike and that the party had no plan for how they would address issues in the town.

Cllr Jenkins said: “When they’re asked on the doorstep what they would do, they can’t or won’t answer. They won’t say how they will fund any plans, so some residents fear that council tax will massively rise.”

Both the Conservatives and Labour had 17 councillors going into the election, two short of a majority.

Test of parties’ support in Brighton and Hove

In Rottingdean, six candidates have been contesting the race to replace former councillor Joe Miller, who resigned suddenly earlier this year. While the winner will not dramatically change the council’s political make-up, the by-election marks potentially the final test of support for the political parties ahead of city-wide elections in Brighton and Hove in May next year.

You can follow the latest from the count and the result from the Rottingdean Coastal on our live blog, with more updates tomorrow as results from the rest of Sussex are announced.