Local elections 2010: Tories remain dominant local force

By Alex Stevenson

A strong Labour performance in local government elections has bucked the national trend, but the Conservatives have insisted they are still the dominant party in local politics.

The Tories lost eight councils but still controlled 65 councils compared to Labour’s 36 and the Lib Dems’ 13.

“We have retained our position as the largest party in local government in Britain, with more councillors than Lib Dems and Labour combined,” shadow local government minister Bob Neil said.

“A high turnout has helped Labour but they still remain a urban rump because of their high taxes and worse services.”

After 125 of 164 councils had announced their results Labour had gained net control of 14 councils.

Among its gains were Lib Dem stronghold Sheffield and Liverpool, where Labour has struggled to win over local trust for years.

There were 32 London boroughs, 36 metropolitan authorities and 20 unitary authorities were up for grabs in local government elections.

Other Labour gains included Hartlepool, Coventry, Oxford and St Helens. The capital proved fertile ground for them too, with London boroughs now controlled by Labour including Ealing, Enfield, Hounslow, Islington and Brent.

The Conservative losses included Lincoln, Solihull, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Bury.

Nathan Yeowell, the Local Government Association’s Labour group head, said his party’s “fightback” was beginning at the grassroots.

“This is a platform from where we can fight back if there is a Tory administration and prove we are a viable alternative capable of providing services and protecting the needy and vulnerable who might be put at risk by cuts,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

The Lib Dems also lost control of Kingston-Upon-Thames, Richmond-upon-Thames and Rochdale.