Votes are being counted in this year’s local elections in England.

The results will come in waves into the morning – with all councils expected to declare by 8pm on Friday.

Elections were held in 230 of England’s 317 councils, within district, borough, county borough and unitary authority councils, along with four mayoral elections in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough.

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This is your guide to the key seats to watch out for through the morning and beyond.

The story so far

• The Conservatives have lost control of two councils to no overall control – Tamworth and Brentwood.

Plymouth went from no overall control to Labour. Politics here is somewhat chaotic, with both Labour and Tory councillors either defecting or being expelled.

Middlesbrough has a Labour mayor – Chris Cooke took the post from an independent incumbent.

Hartlepool, remained under no overall control despite both parties looking to seize a majority – after Boris Johnson secured a by-election victory in the parliamentary seat in 2021.

Read more: Professor Michael Thrasher explains how to interpret the results

Read more:

All you need to know about the local elections
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The key councils to watch

After 4am

• In this two-hour period, more than a dozen results could be declared in rapid succession. Early on the list will be Braintree, Coventry, North Devon, North Norfolk and Southend-on-Sea.

Boston in Lincolnshire is currently under no overall control, the Conservatives only need to gain one seat to win a majority.

• Three gains in Peterborough would also give the Tories overall control of the council.

Bolton, which has no overall control, is one to watch at 4am. It is one of several Metropolitan Boroughs where the rise of local independent groups has affected the ability of one party to seize a majority.

• Turning to the Liberal Democrats for a moment, and Tory-held Dacorum in Hertfordshire is in Sir Ed Davey’s sights for a "blue wall" upset.

• At 5am, we will see declarations that could also be significant for the Lib Dems: Bath and North East Somerset which the party took from the Conservatives in 2019, and Windsor and Maidenhead, where Lib Dem gains could shift the council from Tory to no overall control.

From 6am

• A headline of the day would be if Medway in Kent falls to Labour. This was a new council in 1997 but even during its landslide victory, Labour could not win it outright. The winning line is 28 seats so watch this one closely at 6.30am.

• Another to watch in this hour is Stoke-on-Trent, which is set to declare at 6am. The area is a stark example of how Labour’s voter base has eroded in areas hard hit by industrial decline. Voters have been supporting various brands of independents since the turn of the century and their rise has damaged Labour.

• Others declaring after dawn breaks are South Gloucestershire, South Kesteven and Tameside.

At this point, there will be time to take a breather.

With the exception of East Lindsey – which is expected to declare at 9am. After this, we don’t anticipate any results emerging until 12pm.

From midday

• The first in the Friday afternoon wave of results will be Herefordshire, and Labour-held Rossendale, Gateshead and Manchester.

• Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will be hoping to bolster his majority in Gateshead – and hold on to the other northern councils – as the general election looms.

Solihull is one to keep a close eye on when it declares at 1pm – as is Stratford-upon-Avon. Both have fragile Conservative majorities and could see a fall to no overall control if the Liberal Democrats and Greens make gains.

Burnley could also bring an interesting result at 1.30pm. Labour needs four gains to take majority control.

• Conservative-held Walsall is a council where Labour will need to make gains if it is to claim that it’s on track to win the next general election.

• We also expect the Mansfield mayoral election to declare at around this time.

From 2pm

• At this point, politics watchers should be aware of the results in Torbay, where the Conservatives lost their majority to no overall control in 2019.

• Results for Stafford, Middlesbrough, Tunbridge Wells, West Devon, West Suffolk and Wokingham will also be confirmed between 2pm and 4pm.

Darlington is one to watch when it declares at 3pm. The Tees Valley area is a key target for Labour. With all seats up for re-election, Labour might advance, having finished just two seats behind the Conservatives last time.

• It’s also worth noting that Milton Keynes is run by a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition at the moment.

From 4pm

• Later in the afternoon, results will rush in from a number of key battlegrounds. The first will be Dover, where the Tories gained a seat from Labour in a local council by-election in 2021. If the Conservatives lose three seats, they lose overall control.

• Two cabinet ministers – Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt – have their Surrey constituencies in Elmbridge, which is currently under no overall control. The area saw big swings to the Liberal Democrats in the 2019 general election – could the party take the council this time?

• At the same time, Swindon is expected to declare its results. Sir Keir launched Labour’s local election campaign here – it is a key target for the party.

Stockton-on-Tees should also declare in this period. Labour lost control of the council in 2019 and the parliamentary constituency later that year in the general election.

Sheffield will see Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens going head to head – with Labour hoping for three gains to win a majority.

From 6pm

• The final rush will begin at 6pm – but by this point, we will likely have a good idea of the overall picture.

• Those to declare in this wave will include Lancaster, New Forest, South Derbyshire, Mid Devon and Bedford.

Waverley is expected to declare at around 6pm. In May 2019, the Liberal Democrats came within six percentage points of the Tory total – but won only 14 seats compared to 23 for the Conservatives. The Lib Dems will be hoping to make gains and seats to build pressure ahead of the general election.

From 8pm

• The very last result is expected to come from York, which is currently run by a Liberal Democrat and Green coalition. Labour is hoping to make gains.

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