Labour and the Conservatives are bullish about their chances of taking power in the key battleground borough of Redbridge.
Both parties believe they can take full control of the council in today’s poll, with Labour leader Ed Miliband and London’s Tory Mayor Boris Johnson recently drafted in to push for vital votes in what is expected to be a close-run race.
Seizing power from a Tory-led coalition with the Liberal Democrats would be a major coup for Labour, who have been trailing in recent national polls.
But Tories in the borough will be hoping a recent announcement by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that the A&E department at King George Hospital in Goodmayes will not close next year as originally planned could push them over the line.
Speaking after the polls opened this morning, Conservative leader of the council, Cllr Keith Prince, said: “We are confident of an overall victory and it is looking good for us. You never know until the polls close though.
“Voters have been speaking to me about parking and King George Hospital today.
"They are delighted with our plan to offer free parking for half an hour and over the moon that we have secured the future of King George Hospital A&E through discussions with Jeremy Hunt.
“They recognise we are doing a great job in difficult circumstances and we urge all supporters to turn out and vote for us.”
Labour strongly criticised the timing of the King George announcement on Tuesday, claiming it was unfair electioneering so close to polls opening.
Deputy Leader of Labour Group, Cllr Wes Streeting, said: “It was complete electioneering but we can't dwell on it and are still going into polling confident and very proud of our election campaign.
“We are not taking any vote for granted so I have been awake since 4.30am and am going to leaflet right through to 10pm. I don’t plan on sleeping until midday tomorrow.
“We set out policies that people in Redbridge want, based on them being unhappy with dirty streets and a lack of school places.
“Labour supporters need to turn out for us today because every vote counts.”