THE new leader of Wirral Council said residents had sent a "clear message" as they gave Labour overall control of the borough.

Councillor Phil Davies, leader of the Labour group, said tonight's result demonstrated the electorate's "dissatisfaction" with Tory and Lib Dem policies both nationally and locally.

The local elections saw Labour gain seven seats across New Brighton, Upton, Prenton, Liscard, Bebington, Pensby and Leasowe wards.

It means the 37-strong group will take overall control of the local authority, with Conservatives having 22 seats while Lib Dems have just seven.

However Conservative Jeff Green will remain officially the leader of the authority until annual council takes place on May 21, when Labour will vote him out.

With no local elections in Wirral in 2013, Labour has a two-year unbroken term of office to look forward to.

Councillor Davies said he is looking forward to bringing stability back to the council.

He said: "The good thing about the result is that for the first time in more than a decade, there is a clear, majority council.

"It means we will have a stable administration and good decision-making – it is an excellent result and a vote of confidence in Labour.

"Residents have sent a very clear message to Liberal Democrats and Conservatives that they were not happy with the policies they were pursuing.

"They saw through the council tax reduction as an election bribe."

But Cllr Davies, who took the reins of the Labour group after former leader Steve Foulkes stood down in March, said he now hopes to take the council forward following the Anna Klonowski report into adult social services.

The outside consultant - brought in after revelations in the Globe by whistle-blower Martin Morton - delivered a highly-critical assessment of both social services and the council's corporate governance.

The town hall is also awaiting the results of an Audit Commission investigation into alleged irregularities in an multi-million pound outsourced highways maintenance contract.

Councillor Davies said: "We have collectively admitted that we got it wrong with the over-charging of social service users.

"But we have a new director of adult social services and we have been working with the Care Quality Commission to make sure that all the issues raised in the AKA report are tackled."

However Cllr Lesley Rennie, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said it was a "sad night for Wirral."

She said: "It has been a disappointing night, particularly in Wallasey.

"I am sad to see my colleague Sheila Clarke lose her seat at Bebington as she did some great work within her capacity of cabinet member for children's services.

"It is a sad night for the people of Wirral - we have found that in the last couple of months, supported by the Lib Dems, we have been able to start to turn this council round.

"I hope that Labour’s new leader Phil Davies will be able to carry on some of the things we have started."

The Green Party put up a close fight in the Labour heartland of Birkenhead and Tranmere with their candidate finishing only 259 votes behind the Labour victor.

UKIP, fielding candidates in all 22 available wards, failed to gain a seat but saw a rise in their percentage of the vote.

This year’s Wirral elections saw 86,529 voters at the polling stations giving a 36.39% total turn-out.

Nationally, early indications suggest Labour could snatch more than 700 seats, meaning the Tories will lose a third of their councillors.

The result would give the opposition 39% of the vote.