LABOUR held onto the West Thurrock and South Stifford ward seat with a 300-vote win in a by-election.

Terry Brookes, the Labour candidate, won with 50.3 per cent of the vote - 903 votes overall - holding off the threat of UKIP and their candidate Russell Cherry, who polled 34.6 per cent, or 621 votes.

The Conservatives and their candidate John Rowles, came third with 270 votes, 15 per cent overall.

The by-election was called following the death of former council leader and senior cabinet member Andy Smith, who passed away in July.

He reatined the seat in May, beating UKIP by 294 votes.

Labour has not lost in West Thurrock and South Stifford since 2004.

But on this occasion, the turn out was six per cent less than in May at just 24 per cent.

Mr Brookes, who - today alone - walked 24km while campaigning in the ward said: "It feels fantastic. We decreased the votes for UKIP and the Conservatives, so it's a fantastic feeling. I will do the residents who voted proud.

"We got across the right messages that we will keep the street lights on, we will keep the lorry ban - they are things I will fight for - we will keep council tax the lowest in Essex and people have gone for that.

"Andy Smith is sorely missed by many residents in the ward. Many people have commented on how good he was. He would be really proud at the campaign team. I can't fill his shoes, but I will follow in his footsteps."

The result was quite a relief for Labour, who had been wary of the UKIP threat after the performance of the Eurosceptic party in May and more recently, in areas like Clacton.

More reaction and analysis to follow.