INFORMATION sessions helping people understand changes to the way we vote have been held by Inverclyde Council and local charity Your Voice.

Ahead of next month's council elections, staff from the Electoral Registration Office also offered a talk on how to register to vote and provided people with help on postal and proxy voting.

The upcoming election will use the Single Transferable Vote system, where voters use numbers to rank candidates in order of preference, doing away with the traditional 'X' in a box.

On 3 May there will be elections to all 32 councils in Scotland - and in Inverclyde 20 councillors will be elected to serve across six wards.

Kate Crawford, depute electoral registration officer for Renfrewshire Valuation Joint Board, said: "The turnout in council elections is traditionally low but voters are choosing the people who make a daily difference to their lives.

"Who do you contact if your bins need emptying or there is an issue with street lighting, roads or schools?

"These elections are hugely important and people should exercise their democratic right." Patrick Bonner, 66, of Port Glasgow, who attended one of the advice sessions, said: "This was very useful and the first time I knew that voting is by numbers.

"I think it is easy and a very fair system." The deadline to register to vote is Wednesday 18 April.

People can register by contacting the Electoral Registration Officer, The Robertson Centre, 16 Glasgow Road, Paisley, PA1 3QF.

The deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5pm on Wednesday 18 April and the deadline for applying for a proxy vote - except in medical emergencies - is 5pm on Wednesday 25 April.