Thursday 10pm: the polls close and the spinning begins
All parties usually try to manage expectations at this stage. Labour will want to at least hold its position and minimise losses of seats. The Conservatives have indicated they are seeking to make gains in some traditional Labour areas, given their lead in the polls. Usually, an opposition party would take seats off a governing one, but this is an unusual set of local contests because they fall within an general election campaign in which the Tories expect to win a majority.
Friday 3am to 4am: a string of Welsh councils
Labour dominates the local council landscape in Wales, but the Conservatives have been polling well there in recent months, perhaps benefiting from a collapse in support for Ukip since the Brexit vote. Key areas to watch out for are Bridgend, Wrexham and Newport, where the Tories are going after seats from a low base and will try to take seats previously held by the other parties on 8 June. In Cardiff, the Liberal Democrats want to take back control with the support of remain voters. In north Wales, Plaid Cymru will be hoping to take full control of councils such as Ceredigion.
3am to 4am: will the Tory heartland councils go even bluer?
A swath of Conservative-held councils are due to be announced in the middle of the night, including Gloucestershire, Essex, Dorset, Lincolnshire, Somerset and Hampshire. All are expected to stay blue, although Somerset, Hampshire and Dorset may give us a clue about the extent of any Lib Dem revival in the south and south-west. Lincolnshire and Essex also got a sizeable number of Ukip county councillors in 2013, so it will be interesting to see whether those seats fall back to the Tories this time.
4am: Labour seek to stay largest party on Northumberland county council
The council has been under no overall control since 2008, with Labour knocking back the Lib Dems to become the largest group for the last two years. It would be a huge blow to the party if the Tories emerged as the dominant presence. The rural patches of the constituency tend to be Conservative or Lib Dem leaning, while the more populous former mining areas in south-east Northumberland have very strong Labour heritage. However, a hung council seems to be the most probable result.
5am: West of England mayoralty
This may be the first exciting result of the night, as the area of Bristol, Bath, North east Somerset and south Gloucestershire announce the result of a three-way marginal between the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems. Bristol has a Labour mayor already, but the countryside areas are firmly Tory, while Bath has historically had Lib Dem tendencies. The betting odds suggest Tim Bowles, the Tory candidate, is the frontrunner, but the Lib Dems’ Stephen Williams and Labour’s Lesley Mansell are also in contention. The Doncaster mayoralty declares at 5.30am but hats will be eaten if this is anything other than a Labour hold.
8am: Labour v the Tories for control of Cumbria council
This is another bellwether council where Labour will be aiming to remain the largest party. It was last led by the Conservatives in 1981 but has swung between Labour and no overall control since then. It bodes badly for Labour that it lost the seat of Copeland to the Conservatives in a byelection this year, but there are plenty of areas of continuing strong Labour support from Carlisle to west Cumbria and Barrow.
2pm to 3pm: the big patterns emerge
A rush of results will come in at around 2pm after a quiet period for most of the morning – 18 English, Scottish and Welsh councils are expected at this time. In Scotland, watch to see how the balance of power lands between the SNP and Labour in Inverclyde, Midlothian, East Lothian and Renfrewshire. And all eyes will be on whether the Conservatives have been right to boast about a revival in Scotland as the results come in for Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire. A little earlier, the Conservatives will be expected to comfortably hold Devon, Hertfordshire and East Sussex but there could be hints about whether the Lib Dems are recovering if they are gaining seats. The Tories lost control of Warwickshire in 2013 and want to gain it back in a straight fight against Labour that could give some clues about how the general election will go in marginals such as Nuneaton. In Cambridgeshire, it will be interesting to see whether the Lib Dems pick up any pro-EU votes in Cambridge from Labour. At 3pm, Cornwall will be one to watch as it is fairly evenly divided between independents, Lib Dems and Conservatives.
3pm: Steve Rotheram expected to be the first Liverpool region mayor
Labour is all but certain to win the mayoralty, which will probably prompt Rotheram to withdraw as a parliamentary candidate for the safe Labour seat of Liverpool Walton.
4pm: SNP could seize Glasgow off Labour
This would be a historic loss for Labour, which is fighting hard to keep its former heartland council. But all parliamentary seats in the city are now held by the SNP and it is odds-on to spread that dominance to the council as well.
4pm: Labour expect to keep control in Derbyshire and Lancashire
The party is dominant on Derbyshire council and will want to at least maintain its current level of councillors. The situation in Lancashire is more finely balanced, with Labour narrowly holding power. It is a key target for the Conservatives both at the local and general elections. Any retreat in Labour’s position will augur badly for the 8 June but the party’s hopes will be bolstered if it holds firm.
4pm: North Tyneside and Tees Valley mayoralties
These are pretty certain wins for Labour, providing some cheer after some potentially difficult results elsewhere. Norma Redfearn is seeking re-election in North Tyneside, while Sue Jeffrey in Teesside is expected to become the only female winner out of the new metro mayoral contests.
5pm: More Labour v Tory battlegrounds
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both launched their local election campaigns in the Nottinghamshire, where Labour is defending the council and the Tories hope to make gains. It is the reverse situation in Staffordshire, where Labour will want to regain control of a council it held between 1981 and 2009.
5pm: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoralty
The Conservative candidate, James Palmer, is likely to win but a strong vote for the Lib Dems could make Tories standing in remain-voting areas in the general election start to sweat.
6pm: West Midlands and Greater Manchester mayoralties
West Midlands is the big one. Labour started off confident that Sion Simon would win in a heartland area for the party. But Andy Street, a former John Lewis boss, has somehow become the favourite for the Conservatives. There will be some depressed Labour general election candidates in the West Midlands if the Tories manage to pull this off. But the fight is close and by no means yet lost for Labour. Labour’s Andy Burnham, a former health secretary, is near guaranteed to win the Greater Manchester mayoral for Labour.
A traditional Tory heartland, there was an influx of Ukip councillors at the last election. It will, therefore, be a key test of whether Ukip’s support has collapsed since Theresa May fully embraced Brexit.