Voters go to the polls on Thursday in 35 council contests that will be watched keenly just two years before David Cameron has to go to the country.
Those who can vote in the 34 English top-tier counties and unitary authorities, plus the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, account for nearly 40% of the UK total. Nearly 10,000 candidates are battling for seats.
Polls open on Thursday at 7am and close at 10pm. Early results from districts that should indicate how the parties are doing are expected around 1.30am on Friday and you'll be able to follow all the results right here on Yahoo! News.
The first full council result is likely to come from Lincolnshire at around 2.30am on Friday. The Tories have had control of the council since 1997. Retaining it or losing it may act as a weathervane for the party's fortunes in what is likely to be a difficult night for the Conservatives.
News is also expected in the early hours of Friday from contests North and South of the Tyne - not in council polls but in the South Shields parliamentary by-election (expected declaration around 1.30am) and the North Tyneside mayoral election (perhaps 3am).
The battle for the Labour stronghold of South Shields was triggered by former Cabinet Minister David Miliband's decision to step down as MP to become head of the International Rescue Committee in New York.
A flurry of full council results expected by around 4am - from Dorset, Essex, Hampshire and Somerset - followed within a couple of hours by Gloucestershire. All are currently Conservative-controlled. In a Tory disaster scenario the party could lose its majorities on all of them. Lib Dems may stand a chance of victory in Somerset.
Friday morning will see a lull before full council results start coming through towards lunchtime from the remaining authorities.
Results that will be keenly awaited include those from:
- Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, where Labour is fighting to take control from Tories;
- Cumbria, Derbyshire and Northumberland, where Labour is aiming to win the councils from no overall control;
- Cornwall, where Tories are currently the largest party but short of an overall majority.
Altogether 2,449 seats are up for grabs and Tories fear they may lose as many as 500.
Labour is expected to be the main beneficiary, although Ukip is fielding over 1,700 candidates in the polls - only just behind Lib Dems - and is widely tipped to make gains.
The final outcome is expected to be known on Friday night when the last full council result is due to be declared.
A result is also due on Friday afternoon in Doncaster's mayoral poll, where incumbent Peter Davies, who resigned from the English Democrats, is fighting for re-election as an independent.