London : British voters were going to the polls Thursday in the first electoral test for Prime Minister Gordon Brown since replacing Tony Blair last June.
In total, there are 3,920 council seats being contested spread across 137 local authorities in England and all 22 in Wales.
Predictions were that the ruling Labour Party could lose more than 200.
Elections are also being held for London Mayor in what is seen as a two-horse race between Labour’s Ken Livingstone, who is seeking his third consecutive four-year term and his flamboyant Conservative rival Boris Johnson.
Opinion polls have suggested that the result in London, where there is also voting for the 25-seat London Assembly, is too close to call with Johnson slightly in the lead.
Labour is reportedly fearing that the party nationally could record its lowest share of the vote in the local elections since the 1970s, falling as low as 25 per cent and finishing third behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Braced for defeat, Brown is said to be already planning a campaign to “relaunch” Labour’s image by making cabinet changes in an attempt to win lost ground ahead of the next general elections that have to be held by June 2010.
Recent opinion polls have suggested that David Cameron’s Conservative will end three successive Labour governments that have been ruling Britain since 1997.