Labour is jubilant over the capture of Hammersmith and Fulham, which it described as “David Cameron’s favourite council”, from the Conservatives.
Both parties had poured heavy resources into the battle for the west London authority, where campaigning focused on plans to shake up local hospitals.
Labour gained 11 seats from the Tories to hand it a six-seat majority on the council which it will run for the first time for eight years.
A local Conservative MP, Greg Hands, blamed the defeat on “Labour lies” about the future of Charing Cross Hospital. But Labour accused him of “sour grapes” adding: “They voted Labour in David Cameron's favourite council.”
Redbridge also fell into Labour hands after the party won seats from the Tories, Lib Dems and Independents alike. The victory will bolster Labour’s hopes that it can make gains next year in east London which is experiencing rapid demographic change.
The Ukip surge prevented Labour from winning Basildon, the symbolic home of “Essex man” and an area which has traditionally alternated between Tory and Labour control.
Labour’s performance was even worse in nearby Thurrock, where Ukip gained five seats and ousted the party from control of the authority. The Essex town’s parliamentary seat is held by the Tories by a tiny majority – and Ed Miliband will have no chance of making it to Downing Street unless he wins there.
Liberal Democrat losses in Cambridge handed the previously “hung” council to Labour control. The university town’s MP is a Liberal Democrat, so the result will boost Labour’s hopes of regaining a seat which has previously shifted between the three main parties.
Although Rotherham remained a Labour stronghold, the results showed Ukip is widening its appeal to urban areas in the North of England. Nigel Farage’s party gained nine seats to make it the second largest party on the south Yorkshire council.
Swindon delivered a rebuff to Mr Miliband, who was caught over this week in a radio interview over the identity of the local Labour leader. His party failed to make any gains on the Wiltshire council, allowing the Tories to increase their majority.
The Liberal Democrats were ousted in Portsmouth, where they have been haunted by claims about the MP Mike Hancock, who was suspended from the party over allegations of sexual misconduct towards a female constituent, which he denies. Ukip won four seats from the Lib Dems, one from Labour and one from an independent.
They also lost control to the Tories in Kingston-upon-Thames, which is represented in the Commons by the Cabinet minister Ed Davey and will now become a Conservative election target.
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