David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been dealt a stinging rebuke by the public as Labour racked up big gains in local elections.

Key councils such as Thurrock, Harlow, Southampton, Birmingham, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Chorley fell to Ed Miliband's party.

The Prime Minister was also embarrassed by losses in his Oxfordshire constituency - with Labour taking the seats of Witney Central, Witney East and Chipping Norton.

In a further blow, Manchester, Nottingham and Coventry ignored Mr Cameron's pleas and rejected proposals for elected mayors. Birmingham and other cities are expected to follow suit.

In Purbeck, the only part of the Daily Echo’s circulation area with elections this time round, there was no change in any of the eight seats up for grabs.

There is no overall control of Purbeck District Council, with the Conservatives having 12 seats, the Liberal Democrats having 10 and the Independents two. See results below. Nationally, the Liberal Democrats were not spared pain, being left without a representative on several powerful councils as voters seemingly punished the Government for austerity measures.

Overall Labour looked on track to exceed the 700 gains experts had set as the threshold for a good performance.

A BBC projection of the national vote share gave the party 39% - up three points on a year ago. The Tories were down four on 31% and the Lib Dems trod water on 16%.

Tories pointed to a low turnout, estimated at little over 30%, suggesting that ``apathy'' had played a significant part in the results.

But there were also calls for a change in direction from the leadership.

Senior backbencher Bernard Jenkin insisted the party had to focus on the economy rather than allowing their Lib Dem coalition partners to dictate the agenda.

Some 5,000 seats were at stake on 181 local councils across England, Scotland and Wales.

Most were last up for grabs in 2008, when the Conservatives made significant gains and Labour and the Lib Dems were hit hard.

The Prime Minister will be hoping that Boris Johnson has bucked the trend by securing re-election as London Mayor.

An eve-of-poll survey for the Evening Standard suggested that Mr Johnson is set for victory over Labour's Ken Livingstone, by a margin of 53% to 47%.

PURBECK Lytchett Matravers: John Taylor, Lib Dem, 623; Lytchett Minster and Upton East, Carol Tilling, Lib Dem 528; Lytchett Minster and Upton West, Paul Johns, Con, 618; St Martin, Beryl Izzard, Lib Dem, 511; Swanage North Gloria Ann Marsh, Con, 778; Swanage South, Alison Patrick, Con, 784; Wareham, Keith Critchley, Lib Dem, 954; Wool Graham Holmes, Lib Dem 596