LABOUR have claimed victory in the 2012 Inverclyde Council elections after securing half of the 20 seats up for grabs in Thursday's crucial poll.

They now look almost certain to negotiate a deal to lead a ruling coalition after snapping up 10 seats, four more than their nearest rivals, the SNP.

Labour could try to lead the local authority with the councillors they have, but the Tele understands they will try to reach an agreement with Tory David Wilson plus Gourock independent Ronnie Ahlfeld - who polled more votes than anyone else.

The only female candidate, Labour's Vaughan Jones, won a seat while her 20-year-old party colleague James McColgan was also elected - as he sat a university exam in Glasgow.

Long-serving Liberal councillor George White was a high-profile casualty as he lost his seat, while the Lib Dems slumped to just two councillors.

The results were revealed at a rapid election count held in the Waterfront Leisure Centre yesterday, with Inverclyde believed to be the first mainland area in Scotland to declare.

After the results were confirmed, jubilant Labour leader Stephen McCabe said: "We were quietly confident. Our voter management was better than at the last council election."