Local election results in the North East and Cumbria

Ballot box Image copyright bbc
Image caption Labour has done well in the North East and Cumbria compared with elsewhere

So more than 15 hours after polls closed, what are we to make of the local election results in the North East and Cumbria?

Labour has done very well - probably better in the North East than elsewhere in the country.

The Lib Dems are generally faring badly.

And although the Conservatives gained Ryedale in North Yorkshire and held all their seats in Carlisle, they have been losing seats in the North East.

Solace for Labour

The North East has often provided solace for Labour even in tough times, and with the party's vote now rising it delivered some good gains.

They have taken their top target of Newcastle with ease, sweeping away seven years of Lib Dem rule.

The party took four seats from the Conservatives in Sunderland, a safe seat was snatched from the Tories in South Tyneside and the party gained in Gateshead and Hartlepool at the Lib Dems' expense.

But the result that's stood out for me so far was in Darlington.

The Conservatives pushed really hard there to lay the blame for cuts at the local Labour council's door.

The prime minister even dropped in to help the campaign.

The result - a loss of four seats to Labour. With the ruling group also picking up a seat from the Lib Dems, Darlington's voters appear to have decided the blame for cuts lies with the coalition government.

Struggling Lib Dems

The Lib Dems have been struggling. Apart from the losses in Hartlepool and Gateshead, they finished fourth in some seats in Sunderland, and lost the one seat they were defending in Carlisle.

They also lost six seats in Ryedale, where the Conservatives took control.

The party is though bucking the trend in Redcar and Cleveland where they've even been gaining seats.

Perhaps the presence of Lib Dem MP Ian Swales in the area, and the recent good news about Corus has benefited the party.

Labour's plan for a vertical pier in the seaside town may not have inspired voters too. The results aren't complete there though as I write.

And in Middlesbrough the row about Mayor Ray Mallon's injudicious remarks in secretly-recorded phone conversations hasn't dented his popularity with voters.

He increased his vote and won a third term on the first ballot by securing just over 50% of the vote.

Sobering note

One sobering note though was the death of Newcastle Lib Dem candidate Neil Hamilton on polling day.

The election in the Westerhope ward has been postponed and his absence will overshadow results there.

I'm now off to the North East regional alternative vote referendum count in Sunderland.

It's rare I call a vote before any ballots have even been counted, but when even Lib Dems tell you it's a lost cause, you can be pretty sure a no vote is in the offing.

The only uncertainty looks likely to be the margin of victory for the no campaign.