Labour has lost control of one of its key Midlands councils in the local elections as shadow chancellor John McDonnell predicted it would be a “really mixed” night for the party.
The first result was in before midnight with the Conservatives holding Broxbourne.
Labour lost Nuneaton and Bedworth with the council falling to no overall control after the Conservatives gained eight seats.
Labour has lost Nuneaton & Bedworth to no overall control. New council: Lab 17, Con 16, Green 1.— Ian Jones (@ian_a_jones) May 3, 2018
Labour sources said they were hopeful of making progress overall but were “realistic” about the outcome after starting from a high base in 2014.
London is the major battleground after recent polls pointed towards a substantial swing to Labour and the party believes it has a “fighting chance” in Barnet.
But Mr McDonnell played down suggestions the party could take Tory councils such as Wandsworth and said he believed it would be “really mixed” throughout the night.
“Some of the speculation about Wandsworth, we haven’t won Wandsworth since 74,” he told BBC News.
“I don’t think there are going to be big swings. What we are looking for is incremental gains that will lay the foundations.”
Thank you to everyone who voted Labour today.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 3, 2018
I'd also like to thank Labour members and supporters who have been campaigning with our message of real change.
You're the lifeblood of our movement and it's you who'll help us change our country so it works for the many not the few
Most councils are counting votes overnight but others will declare results during the day on Friday.
Conservatives may be boosted by Ukip’s decline in the polls, with targets like Basildon or Great Yarmouth potentially up for grabs if the Eurosceptic party performs poorly.
Across England, more than 4,000 seats are being contested in around 150 councils, including all 32 London boroughs, as well as every ward in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.
Mayoral elections are taking place in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Watford and the Sheffield City region, but there are no polls in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Counting is well under way after polls closed at 10pm but voters in some areas piloting controversial ID trials were reportedly unable to cast their ballot.
Just been round the C Palace polling stations. 5 people not able to vote due to #voterID pilot and several walked away because of queues @CatSmithMP @labour4bromley . So why are we doing this .@LBBromley ?— Cllr Angela Wilkins (@angelawilkins1) May 3, 2018
Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking councils have all trialled the scheme to help cut down voter fraud.
MPs and councillors said people, including elderly residents, were being turned away because they did not have appropriate ID.
Angela Wilkins, leader of the Labour group in Bromley, said five people have been unable to vote at polling stations as a result of the pilot and that the scheme is also causing long delays.
She tweeted: “Just been round the C Palace polling stations. 5 people not able to vote due to #voterID pilot and several walked away because of queues @CatSmithMP @labour4bromley. So why are we doing this .@LBBromley ?”
A Government spokesman said: “The overwhelming majority of people cast their vote without a problem.”