Lib Dem leader sees council power lost – even in his own back yard

The Liberal Democrats conceded defeat early this morning in the battle to hold on to the council in Nick Clegg's home city of Sheffield as the party's vote slumped across the North of England.

Party sources predicted they would lose as many as 12 of the 15 seats they were defending, handing control of city hall to Labour. The Liberal Democrat leader in Sheffield, Paul Scriven, said he feared the voters had "stuck two fingers up to the Government".

Labour sources also forecast they were heading for victory in Sheffield. The Liberal Democrats took power in Sheffield in 2008 and until last night ran a minority administration in the city, with 41 of the 84 seats.

Along with Liverpool, Newcastle and Hull – all areas where the Liberal Democrats were under pressure as counting got under way – the city came to symbolise the party's growing power base in the North of England.

Sheffield is also home to Mr Clegg's parliamentary constituency of Hallam and the Liberal Democrats chose it to stage their spring conference two months ago.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that the Liberal Democrats could lose 10 of the 12 seats they were defending in Hull, another of their flagship authorities. The Lib Dem council leader in Hull, Carl Minns, effectively admitted defeat when he said he would be "gobsmacked" if Labour did not make big gains in the city.

The party's support was also said to be collapsing in Liverpool and Manchester. Ken Ball, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on Chorley council, Lancashire, accused Mr Clegg of "letting the party down" and said he was so disillusioned he could resign from the party.

In the first result of the night, Labour tightened its grip on Sunderland council, where it won four seats from the Tories. It now holds 56 of the 75 seats on the authority.

The party also won the first declaration in elections to the Scottish Assembly, seeing off an SNP challenge in Rutherglen. However, in an early sign of how the political tide was flowing north of the border, Labour suffered a swing of 7.4 per cent to the Nationalists. The SNP gained East Kilbride moments later.

Labour will hope to capture a series of councils in the Midlands and the North of England, from the Liberal Democrats and the Tories, in election results due to be declared today.

The party is confident of winning Blackburn with Darwen, where it only needs to make one gain to take control of the Lancashire authority. The nearby council of Blackpool, which is currently run by the Tories, could be vulnerable to a large Labour swing.

The Conservatives are likely to hang on in Dudley, but only need to lose three seats in Walsall to lose overall control of its town hall.

In the South of England, the Tories are aiming to win the Liberal Democrat stronghold of Lewes, in East Sussex, where they need three gains from the Liberal Democrat coalition colleagues, and Winchester, where they have to make two gains to win control of the council.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back