In the space of less than four hours a large slice of how the next four years of BCP Council would shape up was revealed.

After thousands of residents went to the polls on Thursday, attention turned to the BIC on Friday where the count for all 33 wards took place.

With 76 councillor seats up for grabs across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, political parties and independent candidates could do nothing more than wait for the results to be declared.

A steady morning of ballot paper verification soon turned to the counting of votes.

Bournemouth Echo: Vote verification and counting took place at the BICVote verification and counting took place at the BIC (Image: Richard Crease)

Turnout was announced at 30.26 per cent shortly before 12.30pm and just more than an hour later returning officer Graham Farrant started the declarations.

There were fears among Conservatives that it was going to be a difficult day and these concerns soon became reality as the local authority's results trickled in.

The Queen's Park ward was first to be announced and it was two seats lost for the Conservatives.

Nearby Moordown saw two more Tory losses after independents held their spots in Redhill and Northbourne.

Bournemouth Echo: Jackie Edwards and Stephen Bartlett re-elected in Redhill and NorthbourneJackie Edwards and Stephen Bartlett re-elected in Redhill and Northbourne (Image: Richard Crease)

This somewhat set the theme for what was to follow with a range of parties holding their ground and picking off seats previously held by the Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats were the big winners as the group led by Vikki Slade soared to 28 seats and largest party on the council and there was an early sense it would be a strong result with a full win from the Tories in East Southbourne and Tuckton.

Labour spent most of the afternoon trading places with the Conservatives in the live BCP Council seat standings but they had to settle for 11 seats (up from three) - just one behind the Conservatives.

Bournemouth Echo:

The Green Party picked up three new seats while Simon Bull and Chris Rigby retained their hold on the Winton East ward.

Building on a strong showing across the ancient borough in 2019, the Christchurch Independents increased their seats from seven to eight, with many large margins of victories.

The one ward which alluded them was Christchurch Town, where Mike Cox is now joined by his Liberal Democrat colleague Michael Tarling, who missed out in 2019 to Conservative Peter Hall by a single vote.

Bournemouth Echo: Mike Cox and Michael TarlingMike Cox and Michael Tarling (Image: Richard Crease)

The two Poole focused parties experienced mixed days as Poole People lost on of their three seats in the town centre ward but gained one in Hamworthy, while Poole Engage, on the ballot paper for the first time, picked up a seat in Creekmoor and Hamworthy, respectively.

As the ward results progressed it soon became clear the main focus would be how close would the Liberal Democrats get toa  majority and how many seats would the Conservatives lose.

The answer to these questions: 11 short for the Liberal Democrats and 22 lost for the Conservatives.