Elections in Adur are always interesting, with nobody quite sure who will hold the balance of power after the ballot papers have been counted.

In recent years it has swung from the Liberal Democrats to no overall control and currently to the Conservatives.

That is mainly due to the takeover of Adur by the Conservative Independent Alliance, now referred to locally as the CIA.

The controversial partnership was formed between Tory and Independent councillors to help them see off opposition from Labour and the once powerful Lib Dems, whose seats on the council have dwindled to nothing.

The Tories hold 23 seats, Labour 11, Independents three and Shoreham Beach Residents Association two.

The Lib Dems are fielding a handful of candidates this year to contest what was once a flagship council for the party.

Former Lib Dem councillors Joy Hartley, Barbara Runnells and Sharon Woods left the Lib Dems to stand as Independents in their respective Churchill, Manor and Mash Barn wards.

One third of the council is up for election, with candidates contesting at least one seat in each of 13 wards. There is no election in Marine ward this year.

Two seats are being contested in Peverel following the resignation of former council chairman and CIA councillor Don Phillips.

There are also two seats up for election in Southlands, where Labour councillor Julia King has resigned to concentrate on her career and spend more time with her family.

Of the political big guns, Labour group leader Geoff Howitt faces a stiff contest against veteran Tory campaigner Harry Treadwell for St Mary's ward in Shoreham town centre.

Coun Howitt is a strong critic of Adur's spending policies, which saw the council having to consider cuts in its services or a major hike in council tax.

He has voted against his party on key issues and there were rumours, strongly denied, that he would desert Labour to stand as an Independent.

The Tories hope Harry Treadwell, a former journalist with The Argus and Press officer for the local Conservative association, can win the day on May 1.

Elsewhere, councillor Daniel Yates, who stood as Labour candidate against East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Laughton at the last General Election, is in a two-horse race against Tory candidate Brian Boggis in Cokeham.

Brian Whipp, a Hillside ward councillor and West Sussex county councillor, will contest the seat against Tory candidate Kenneth Eade and Paul King for the Lib Dems.

A key issue which could decide the campaign is the recent rise in Adur's council tax of 18.6 per cent.

The hike was criticised after the council received a 12.9 per cent increase, one of the highest in England, in money it receives from the Government to cover operating costs.

Adur is an area looking to the future, with plans to expand Shoreham airport and the redevelopment of Shoreham harbour.

The harbour is one of the biggest brownfield sites in the South-East and plans are going ahead to turn it into a thriving community, providing major business, housing and leisure facilities.

Work is under way to build homes and a town square to transform Ropetackle into a focal point for Shoreham after the site stood derelict for more than 30 years.

Adur sits neatly in the strategic gap between Brighton and Hove and Worthing.

In Fishersgate and Southwick it has areas recognised as having some of the worst unemployment and social problems in Sussex.

In contrast, Shoreham and Shoreham Beach have seen property prices boom recently and are now desirable areas for commuters looking to escape city life.

The council itself has been praised by local government inspectors for its open democracy policies and continuing drive to improve the way it is run.

Debates over the state of the district are regularly held, where residents and local organisations can have a say on issues affecting them. Citizens' panels have also been set up to provide an instant, representative snapshot of local opinion.

Adur has also pioneered its own blue box domestic waste recycling scheme to reduce the amount of refuse which goes to landfill sites.

There 51 candidates fighting for 15 seats. (Key: C Conservative, G Green, I Independent, L Labour, LD Liberal Democrat, UKIP United Kingdom Independence)

Buckingham, one seat: Debra Kennard (C); Peter Osmond (L); Frank Tilsley (G).

Churchill, one seat: Carol Bradburn (C); Roy Gibson (LD); Joy Hartley (I); Jeannette White (L).

Cokeham, one seat: Brian Boggis (C); Daniel Yates (L and Co-op).

Eastbrook, one seat: Carol Eade (C); Jacqueline Painter (LD); Simon Thorpe (L).

Hillside, 1 seat: Kenneth Eade (C); Robert King (LD); Brian Whipp (L and Co-op).

Manor, one seat: Denise Ferris (I); Angela Mills (C); Lionel Parsons (UKIP); Jean Woolgar (L).

Mash Barn, one seat: Patrick Beresford (I); Ann Bridges (L); Richard Burt (LD); Nicola Eves (C); Peter Franks-Lovell (G).

Peverel, two seats: Joyce Burns (L); Tomothy Clarke (LD); Brenda Collard (C); Andrew McGregor (C); John Wales (L).

St Mary's, one seat: Geoffrey Howitt (L and Co-op); Henry Treadwell (C).

St Nicolas, one seat: Kenneth Bishop (UKIP); Alan Heselden (L); Michael Howard (C); Moyra Martin (G).

Southlands, two seats: Peter Berry (L); Felicity Deen (C); Eric Faulkner-Little (UKIP); Louis Gibbs (G); Laura Graysmark (C); Michael Henn (UKIP); Sydney Little (LD); Sue-Ellen Murrell-Ashworth (L).

Sothwick Green, one seat: Steven Carden (L); Iris Hayward (C); Esther Rees (G); Anthony Stuart (LD).

Widewater, one seat: Adrienne Lowe (L); Doris Martin (LD); Christine Turner (C); Edwina Weeks (I).