Labour has so far largely failed to make the breakthroughs it anticipated on a night in which a Ukip wipeout largely benefitted the Tories.
The three biggest parties all gained seats at the expense of the anti-Europe party which by 3.20am had been reduced to a mere two seats nationally – a reduction of 77 – in the areas which had declared at the time.
By this point Labour had gained seven councillors, the Conservatives 39, the Liberal Democrats 22 and the Greens five, BBC data showed.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC earlier in the evening: “Two thirds of Ukip vote is going to the Tories, while one third is going to Labour reflecting national opinion polls. No dramatic shift for either party overall.”
Labour largely retained the same number of councillors but saw few council gains.
Of Labour’s hoped-for gains, Walsall MBC remained hung, with the Conservatives becoming the largest party, while Swindon BC, Amber Valley BC and Peterborough City Council were held by the Conservatives.
Indeed, Labour lost Nuneaton & Bedworth BC after losing eight seats and is predicted to lose Derby City Council, with leader Ranjit Banwait losing his seat. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have won the Basildon BC bellwether, from no overall control.
However, the Conservatives lost overall control of Trafford MBC, formerly led by the man seen as the party’s local government rising star, Sean Anstee.
Tory MP Graham Brady told the BBC the result in Trafford was “deeply disappointing”, but said it was hard to tell how far Brexit and other national political issues had affected the local vote.
“I’ve heard a lot more about potholes than about the Windrush [scandal] on the doorstep,” he said.
Labour gained Plymouth City Council from the Conservatives. It also retained Exeter City Council whose leader Peter Edwards (Lab) said: “It’s a fantastic result for Exeter. The people of Exeter love what we’re doing and I think they have a great degree of trust in the Labour Party in Exeter.”
While few London councils have so far declared expectations have diminished that Labour are going to triumph in traditional Tory strongholds. While Labour made gains in Wandsworth LBC, the party’s hopes soon receded that they could win the council.
The Conservatives are predicted to easily retain Westminster City Council whose leader Nickie Aiken told the BBC that there was no Tory bloodbath in the capital because the electorate were concerned with “bins, not Brexit”.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats won control of Richmond upon Thames.RBC.