UKIP have won six seats on Thurrock Council, missing out on being the largest party by a single vote.
The party, which was the third biggest group after the last local election, took four seats from Labour, one from the Tories and one from an independent.
The final result at the Little Thurrock Blackshots ward was won by the Conservatives by one vote over the UKIP candidate after three recounts.
UKIP and the Conservatives have 17 seats each, and Labour 14.
Analysis By Simon Dedman, BBC Essex Political Reporter
This has been a big success for UKIP in Thurrock and a really bad night for Labour.
Before the election senior Labour activists told me that the Labour leader John Kent could not survive if the group descended to 14 seats – which is the position they have found themselves in.
Mr Kent was highly regarded as a leader of the council, but it’s unlikely the party can retain power, even in a coalition, following the party’s dismal showing.
There is one independent. The parties are now in discussion about whether a coalition can run the authority. Thurrock Tory group leader Rob Gledhill and UKIP leader Graham Snell said they believed they could work together.
Basildon – where UKIP took two seats, one from Labour and one from the Lib Dems – and Southend-on-Sea councils remained with no one party in overall control.
Harlow Council was held by Labour, and Castle Point and Brentwood councils were held by the Conservatives.
Colchester City Council has not yet declared. The counts for Rochford Council and Epping Forest are taking place on Friday.
Source:: BBC world news feed