Jubilant Conservatives claimed they were defeating Gordon Brown in Labour’s traditional heartlands as they celebrated gains across the country today.
Tories gained control of Nuneaton and Bedworth, a Labour stronghold since 1973.
They were also celebrating a series of wins in Birmingham, which they will continue to govern in partnership with the Liberal Democrats.
But the election descended into farce in one Birmingham ward yesterday, when voters turned up at the polling station only to find it had been demolished.
Polling cards sent out by Birmingham City Council directed voters to Wheelers Lane Technology Complex in Billesley, Hall Green – which no longer exists. The correct polling station was in a new building on the same site, the council said.
Tories in the city were confident of securing their strongest position since 1986, after defeating sitting Labour councillors in wards such as Erdington, Weoley, Longbridge and Quinton.
Council leader Mike Whitby boasted: "We are taking seats that not many years ago were regarded as Labour heartlands."
Birmingham Labour MP Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston), whose marginal seat will be targeted by the Conservatives at the next General Election, admitted: "It’s not a good night".
However, she suggested Labour had done badly because voters had stayed at home – rather than enthusiastically backing the Conservatives.
"We have still got a couple of years to go before there is a General Election."
Conservative Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell said: "This is a reaction against Gordon Brown, but it also shows that the Conservative Party has changed, we are in tune with what’s going on, and if we are winning like this in Birmingham then it is a very good sign for the Conservatives nationally."
The Liberal Democrats achieved better results than many had expected, and appeared to have kept every seat they were defending.
Elsewhere, Wyre Forest, in Worcestershire, returned to Conservative control following years of dominance by Health Concern, an independent party set up to oppose the closure of the local hospital.
But the Tories failed to win back Worcester, despite needing just one gain to seize overall control. They will continue to run it as a minority administration.
The city is seen as symbolically important as the home of so-called "Worcester woman" – the typical middle class professional voter concerned about quality of life issues who switched to Tony Blair in 1997 and 2001.
The Conservative gain in Nuneaton means they will make the seat a target in the next General Election. Jayne Innes, who stood unsuccessfully in Yardley in 2005, will be the Labour candidate at the next election, when sitting MP Bill Olner will retire.
The far-right British National Party won its first seats in Nuneaton and Bedworth, electing two councillors in a borough where it was previously unrepresented. Results in a number of key councils will not be announced until later today. They include Solihull, currently run by the Conservatives as a minority administration.
Redditch was under no overall control, with a Labour minority administration. The Conservatives would like to win Redditch, not least as a springboard for claiming the scalp of the Home Secretary, Labour’s Jacqui Smith, at the next election, but they face an uphill battle.
Elsewhere, Conservatives enjoyed a highly significant victory in Bury, in the North-west, where they took control. This will be seen by Tories as a symbol that David Cameron can appeal to voters in urban northern areas.
Results from Liverpool last night indicated that the Liberal Democrats were heading to lose control of the city after a decade. However, the Lib Dems won five seats in Hull to take overall control, in a boost for Nick Clegg’s party.
Labour insiders feared voters would punish their party amid anger over the 10p tax rate abolition and sniping at Mr Brown’s leadership.
But David Cameron is under pressure to gain at least 40 per cent of the vote to prove he is on course to win a General Election. The London Mayoral race was also on a knife edge, with Ken Livingstone struggling to fend off Tory rival Boris Johnson. The result is due to be known Friday afternoon.