Labour became the largest single group on Wirral Council following yesterday's local elections.

And they claimed a major scalp taking the Prenton seat of Liberal Democrat chief and deputy leader of the council Simon Holbrook.

Of the 23 seats being contested, Labour held seven and gained five, losing none; the Tories held six, gained three and lost three while Lib Dems held two and lost four.

The seat left vacant by the resignation of Lib Dem Cllr Gill Gardener in Frankby and Irby ward was taken by Conservatives.

Labour now have 29 seats, the Tories hold 27 and the Lib Dems have 10.

It means the almost perpetual state of Wirral politics prevails and no party has overall control of the town hall - a situation that has existed for the last two decades.

The current Tory/Lib Dem administration will have been shaken, especially with the loss of their deputy leader Cllr Holbrook.

Labour needed to gain enough seats to force a vote of no confidence and disolve the local coalition.

It is not clear at this point what strategy the group, having more councillors than the Tories, intends to follow.

However, Labour leader Steve Foulkes said the Wirral coalition had been punished by the electorate for "showing cowardice" by not facing down Government demands for massive spending cuts.

He said: "It's about standing up for Wirral. Our message was that the people of Wirral need protecting against this savagery against public services.

"They have sought solace and sought comfort from the fact that at least the Labour councillors will stand up to anybody who attacks Wirral.

"These people have shown cowardice in the face of their Government and not even attempted to renegotiate a decent settlement."

Conservative council leader Jeff Green said he was pleased his party entered the elections with 27 members and ended with the same number.

He applauded "some excellent councillors" who lost their seats.

He said: "Of course, it is a great loss to lose fantastic members who have worked solidly for for their residents.

"I must pay tribute to Simon Holbrook who has worked with me as my deputy for the last year. He has done an excellent job for Wirral."

There were no seats gained by Ukip, the Greens or the single independent candidate, Charles Barnes, who was seeking election in West Kirby and Thurstaston.

The Lib Dems lost swathes of seats in former council strongholds in the north of England to Labour, including a dozen in Liverpool, while haemorrhaging support to the Scottish National Party north of the border.

Total Wirral Electorate: 238,921. Turnout for all wards: 43.18%. Total ballot papers: 103,162.

The outcome of the AV referendum will be announced this evening.

More later.

For ward-by-ward results click the link below...