Nick Clegg will urge Liberal Democrats to “take the fight” to the Tories in local elections on 5 May as he attempts to calm party fears over the impact of the national coalition.

Impending local elections have heightened tensions over the Westminster deal, with one senior town hall figure warning the party leader it would result in a ballot box hammering.

As the parties jockey for position, there has also been public dissent at Cabinet level with grassroots favourite Vince Cable attacking David Cameron over a speech on immigration.

And Labour leader Ed Miliband will bid to exploit those tensions when he takes to the campaign trail - accusing the Lib Dems of being “locked in the boot” of the Tory-led administration.

Mr Clegg, the deputy prime minister, will begin a day of campaigning in Sheffield - the city he represents as an MP and in which his party faces a battle with Labour to retain control.

In a speech, he will concentrate his attacks on Labour - accusing the party of putting politics before people by slashing local authority jobs and services.

“When the leaders of the Labour party in Westminster put political opportunism above all else, it can be no surprise to see Labour councils doing exactly the same,” he will say.

“How else can you explain why Labour-run councils are slashing services and jobs when Lib Dem councils wrestling with the same budget cuts are able to keep pain to a minimum?”