Wales politics

Vote 2012: Labour retaking councils in Wales

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeter Hain: "It's turning into a cracking night for Labour in Wales"

Welsh Labour is on course to make substantial gains in the local elections, taking overall control of six councils so far.

The party retook control of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Swansea.

Some 1,200 seats are being contested in 21 of the 22 unitary local authorities in Wales.

Council leaders lost their seats in Caerphilly, Ceredigion, Merthyr, the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham.

Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones said the party had "reconnected with people".

"The momentum is clearly with Welsh Labour tonight," he said.

"We are taking seats from every party across the country - with impressive gains in Wrexham, Caerphilly, Newport and a total Lib Dem wipe out in Merthyr.

"We have reconnected with people and our community campaigning has resonated with voters right across Wales."

Results so far appeared to back up his confidence, although the party is coming from a relatively low base after big losses last time Wales' council seats were contested in 2008.

The first full result announced in Wales was in Wrexham, where Labour made large gains to take 23 seats, strengthening its position as the largest party there.

Besides retaking control of six councils, the party also comfortably held Neath Port Talbot, winning 52 seats, up from 35 previously.

Labour also made gains in Flintshire, but fell short of an overall majority.

Party sources said they were also expecting gains in Cardiff, where a second recount is due to take place in Liberal Democrat council leader Rodney Berman's Plasnewydd ward at 13:00 BST.

The Welsh Conservatives lost their majority in Monmouthshire, falling three seats short of the 22 they needed to secure outright control.

But a Tory party spokesman said that "given the difficult situation inherited by the coalition in Westminster and the tough decisions that must be taken, we recognise that this may not be an easy night in parts of the country".

The party also lost control of the Vale of Glamorgan, with Labour now the largest party but without an overall majority.

Image caption The first full result announced in Wales was in Wrexham, where Labour made large gains

The Conservatives won 11 seats, down from 25 in 2008, while Labour took 22.

Plaid Cymru earlier said it was too early to make judgements but on the doorstep "it's been quite difficult in some areas and much easier in others".

The party admitted that a low turnout would work against its candidates.

The Liberal Democrats, who looked to be facing a difficult night, said there appeared to be a low turnout in some of the counties in which it was previously in power.

The new political make-up of councils started to emerge in the early hours of Friday, but other authorities are not due to declare results until the afternoon.

Labour is defending about 340 seats, Plaid Cymru almost 200, the Conservatives 165 and the Liberal Democrats 140. The rest were filled by independents or small parties.

More than 90 seats for the unitary authorities have already been filled by unopposed candidates.

Elections in Anglesey, where ministers have put commissioners in charge after years of political infighting, have been postponed until next year.

More on this story