Across England the Liberal Democrats lost a series of key councils including Hull, Bristol, Stockport and Sheffield – where Nick Clegg has his constituency.
In Newcastle, Labour swept away seven years of Lib Dem rule with a solid victory of 43 seats
In the Lib Dems’ worst local elections showing since the 1980s, the party lost swathes of seats in former council strongholds in the north of England to Labour, while haemorrhaging support to the SNP in the Scottish Parliament.
In England, with 191 council votes declared, Labour had gained 558 seats and taken control of 21 more councils while the Lib Dems lost 483 seats and six councils. The Tories gained 63 seats and four councils.
Lib Dem councillor dies
In a sober note for the local elections in Newcastle, one Liberal Democrat councillor was found dead after spending a final day campaigning.
The death of Neil Hamilton, who was standing in Westerhope, Newcastle, means the vote in the ward will be postponed and a by-election will take place on 16 June. Police were called to his address last night after colleagues were unable to contact him, a party spokesman confirmed.
Mr Hamilton had served as ward member for Westerhope from 2004 to 2010 and was hoping to regain his seat in yesterday’s local election.
Newcastle City Council leader David Faulkner said: “Neil was a thoughtful and gentle man and a conscientious councillor who will be greatly missed. Whatever the result of today’s elections, it will be overshadowed by Neil’s death.”
The local election for Byker has also been postponed due to the death of candidate Alice Gingell last week. This by-election will also take place on June 16.