Some close finishes brought drama to the count in St Albans.

A total of 18 of the 58 district council seats were up for election this year, with 97,957 electors eligible to vote.

The evening count took place in Batchwood Sports Hall after polling closed at 10pm.

The first results were announced just before 1am.

The Liberal Democrats seemed to cast off the shadow of the coalition, with former councillor Fred Wartenberg's Verulam seat held by Liberal Democrat Chris Davies.

The party's Matthew Farrell managed to steal Labour councillor Momotaz Rahim’s seat in Ashley ward, winning 939 votes to his rival's 836.

And there was a close vote in Sopwell ward, with Liberal Democrat Shakir Rahman gaining 863 votes, only two short of the 865 won by Labour's Janet Smith.

In St Peters, the Green Party's Simon Grover beat Lib Dem Matt Jones by 656 to 650 votes.

Liberal Democrat Chris White, who managed to retain his Clarence ward seat, shared how he felt about his win and today’s PCC election results, which he is also standing in.

He said: “It’s good to retain your own seat with an increased majority and with more than 50 per cent of the vote, but bittersweet because while we gained one other seat we could have gained three others had eight people voted Lib Dem instead of the way they did.

“Clearly we’re on the march forward. A good result but it could have been that bit better.

“I’ll see what happens with the PCC election results but there’s clearly a lot of first choice votes for me in St Albans, and I hear Watford, so we’ll have to see.”

Labour councillor Mal Pakenham, who was re-elected to represent Batchwood, was the first win to be announced during the night.

While he was pleased with the result and thanked the Labour voters of Batchwood for voting for him again, he also had a bone to pick with the Tories.

He said: "We have the current Mayor of St Albans, who turned up to fight me in my ward, which I think is bad form because a mayor shouldn't be political.

"We had the previous mayor Annie Brewster turn up, we had two member of the cabinet and Tory councillors from other wards - all of them abandoned their wards and basically treated their own voters with complete contempt sayinng 'they're going to vote for me, I don't need to do anything in my ward, I'm going to fight the deputy leader and agent for the Labour party, Mal Pakenham, in Batchwood'.

"They came, they fought, we had the battle of Batchwood and Labour won hands down. This is the end of the Conservatives in Batchwood.

"They won last year on a higher turnout in the General Election year, but we have seen them off, we fought on local issues and only local issues and we won."

Councillors not seeking re-election included Independent Julie Bell for Harpenden North, who was elected as a Conservative but resigned from the party during her term.

She has been replaced by Conservative Stephen Hodgson.

Conservative Michael Weaver  (Harpenden West) was also not up for re-election and was replaced by Conservative Matthew Stephens.

Executive leader of the council Cllr Julian Daly was at the count, cheering on his fellow Conservatives.

He said: “There weren’t many changes tonight, we won a seat from the Independents and Labour lost a seat to the Lib Dems.

“We have a majority of four and two and I suppose that’s what I was hoping to receive.

“Sometimes you have a bit more excitement, a few unexpected things. It was quite close to a Lib Dem win in Sopwell and St Peters was three ways, but didn’t change.

“We have increased our majority which should give us a little more room to manoeuvre.

“You’re never sure what’s going to happen on election night.

“The national government is in the press a lot because one arm is fighting the other about Europe and you’d expect to do badly, that would kind of be the norm.”