'Tough night' for Tories as party loses more than 1,000 councillors and 46 councils - as Labour seize 21

5 May 2023, 08:32 | Updated: 5 May 2023, 21:19

The Tories have lost control of seven councils
The Tories have lost control of seven councils. Picture: LBC/Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

The Tories have suffered major losses in Rishi Sunak's first electoral test as PM, with Labour claiming the results suggest a future General Election triumph.

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Results from the local elections so far have seen the Conservatives lose control of 46 councils while Labour has seized control of 21 – including Thanet, Dover, Bracknell Forest, Swindon, Plymouth, Medway.

The Liberal Democrats also made notable gains as the Tories lost seats across England.

Labour took Medway off the Tories and will now run the Kent council for the first time since 1998.

The reds also gained control of Plymouth, where the Tories had run a minority administration - a result branded "terrible" by Government minister and local MP Johnny Mercer.

Only four councils are left to declare their results, including Redcar and Cleveland, which will continue being counted on Tuesday.

Labour is now officially the largest party in local government, taking back ground and surpassing the Tories for the first time since 2002.

Live: Tories lose control of seven councils as Labour makes key gains in early results

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari discusses local election results with Tory Party Chairman Greg Hands

Also to make a major breakthrough is the Green Party which won control of Mid Suffolk - the first council they have controlled outright.

The party has gained an impressive 200 seats over the course of the local elections.

In Hertsmere, where Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is MP, the Tories lost control of the council, with 13 councillors voted out while Labour gained seven and the Lib Dems six.

Labour took control of Amber Valley in Derbyshire from the Conservatives.

Tamworth, Brentford, North West Leicestershire and East Lindsey also fell from Tory administrations to no overall control.

West Lindsey remained under no overall control but the Lib Dems replaced the Tories as the largest party.

In Boston, the Tories lost 10 councillors in the Lincolnshire town they had run as a minority, with independents now taking the majority of seats.

Labour replaced the Tories as the largest party in Hartlepool and Worcester.

The Liberal Democrats have gained 12 councils, including a number of former Tory strongholds, such as Windsor and Maidenhead.

A Tory source said it had been “tough night” for the party, as they admitted their disappointment to lose so many hardworking councillors.

Read more: Labour takes control of Plymouth council - after Conservative administration 'tree massacre' in city centre

Read more: Voter ID is 'a load of rubbish': Frustrated voters turned away from local elections for not having right documents

Labour & Co-op MP Luke Pollard 'anger' towards The Conservatives in Plymouth 'not just about Trees'

Shabana Mahmood MP, Labour’s National Campaign Co-ordinator, said earlier today: "These results show that we are on course for a majority Labour government. 

"We have spent the whole campaign talking about Labour’s plan to tackle the Tory cost of living crisis which is the number one issue for voters.

"Rishi Sunak can't talk about it because the Tories crashed the economy and they don’t know how to fix it.  

"These results have been a disaster for Rishi Sunak as voters punish him for the Tories’ failure."

But Tory party chairman Greg Hands told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that he was not convinced Labour had what it takes.

"It’s been a disappointing night but within that I don’t think its been a knockout performance from Labour either.

"They're not doing well in some of the areas they need to gain to be back in government.

"So I think on that basis it’s going to be all to play for - delivering on those five priorities, delivering for the people."

Greg Hands: ‘Do you want him as part of your blue army?’

On the eve of the coronation, the Tories lost control in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, with the Lib Dems claiming victory.

Tory insiders said they had always expected a "tough night for the party", but with the prospect of a general election in 2024 there will be concerns that they have suffered losses in the north, south and the Midlands.

Leaving the Conservative Party HQ, PM Rishi Sunak said: "We've just have a quarter of the results in, but what I am going to carry on doing in delivering for the people's priorities."

He added: "We're making progress in key election battlegrounds like Peterborough, Bassetlaw and Sandwell.

"But the message I am hearing from people tonight is that they want us to focus on their priorities and they want us to deliver for them."

In Tamworth - the seat of scandal-hit former Tory whip Chris Pincher - Labour made seven gains, pushing it from Conservative into no overall control.

But in Hull, Labour's attempts to regain the council from the Liberal Democrats failed, with Sir Ed Davey's party tightening its grip on the authority.

Standing in front of what was described as a "general election countdown clock" with a sign saying "Time's up for Rishi Sunak" on the top, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said the party was making "big gains across the country".

"We've beaten the Conservatives in Bath and in Brentwood, in Hertfordshire and in Hinckley," he said.

"We're making gains off Labour - we've increased our majority in Hull - and we're making huge gains across the country against the Conservatives.

"We're continuing to make sure the 'blue wall' tumbles down."

James O'Brien reacts to local election results

Labour managed to hold several of its councils in areas including Manchester, Gateshead and Barnsley.

Speaking to supporters in Medway, where Labour gained the council from the Tories, Sir Keir said: "Make no mistake, we are on course for a Labour majority at the next general election."

However, areas such as Burnley and West Oxfordshire remained under no overall control.

The Tories held on in Walsall, but continued throughout the day to lose several councils to no overall control.

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