Labour swept to victory tonight with a 179 vote win in the West Thurrock and South Stifford ward seat by-election.

Cliff Holloway, the Labour candidate, won with 43 per cent of the vote – 629 votes overall – holding off the threat of Ukip and their candidate Helen Adams, who polled at 31 per cent with 450 votes.

The Conservative party and their candidate Tony Coughlin, came third with 384 votes, 26 per cent overall.

The victory means the Labour party have maintained their grasp on Thurrock council, with their majority of 17 seats held.

The by-election was called following the resignation of Labour Councillor Terry Brookes, who was arrested on August 20 for possession of indecent images of children.

Mr Brookes was also suspended from the Labour party in August before the revelations became public.

Labour has not lost in West Thurrock and South Stifford since 2004, and two of the three seats in the ward are held by the party – by Victoria Holloway and Oliver Gerrish.

When Mr Brookes won the seat last October, he won with 903 votes, whilst his nearest challenger Ukip’s Russell Cherry, got 621 votes.

But on this occasion, the turnout was five per cent less than last October, at just 19.6 per cent.

Labour victor Mr Holloway said: “I’m delighted and obviously very proud at carrying on the legacy left by Andy Smith. We are going to try to keep that going and keep turning the tide back for Labour.

“I’m also quite proud of the fact that Labour are just holding the balance of power, and I think that our husbandry of the council has given us as much credibility as you can wish for in pressured financial circumstances.”

“All credit to the people of West Thurrock at turning out to vote. I very much hope that I won’t let them down in the future, not only for my ward but also for the wider borough.”

The win means Thurrock Council will keep its fine balance between Labour and Conservative power, and Labour Leader John Kent is likely to have beaten off a potential leadership threat from Conservative leader Rob Gledhill.

More reaction and analysis to follow.