Labour fear losing their last four remaining county councils
That is what the FT is reporting:
"Harriet Harman, deputy Labour leader, and John Healey, local government minister, gave a downbeat prognosis to a private gathering of the parliamentary Labour party. MPs were told there was a high chance of losing some or all of Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire councils... The county councils with the slimmest Labour majorities are Nottinghamshire with 38 Labour councillors to 25 Tory and Staffordshire with 32 Labour to 27 Tory."
It is also possible, of course, that Labour is playing an expectations management gain.