The Conservative candidate, Andrew Jefferies, won the Ockendon by-election - but only after his name was picked out of a box.

Jefferies drew with Labour candidate, Les Strange, after the two of them both accumulated 696 votes each.

The count, which was held at the Civic Centre in Grays this evening, came down to one vote between the Conservatives and Labour, so a re-count commenced.

Following the second count, the result came in with a tie.

As there had already been a re-count, Thurrock Council Chief Executive, Lyn Carpenter, announced that the winning candidate would come down to a tiebreaker - namely pulling lots out of a box.

Both Jefferies and Strange's names were placed in a box and then Carpenter pulled out a lot - drawing Jefferies name and therefore winning him the election.

Although they lost the tiebreaker, Labour leader, Oliver Gerrish, gave an optimistic view of the outcome.

He said: "I think that getting this far is a step forward for us and I am pleased with the progress we have made.

"At the end of the day, there was no clear winner and it's frustrating that it went to lots but that's the system that we have."

"Delighted" with the outcome was the winning candidate, Jefferies, who said: "I am delighted that the residents of Ockendon have put their trust in me.

"I think we were all nervous when it went down to lots."

Also pleased was Thurrock Independents councillor and spokesman, Jack Duffin, who, even though they lost with 531 votes, was pleased with the progress of his young party.

He said: "It was a fantastic performance by a party that has only been around for a few weeks to get 28 per cent of the vote.

"I see a bright future for us and we are looking forward to making an impact in May."

Jefferies added that he will be focusing on getting more police on the streets of South Ockendon and the Clean It, Cut It, Fill It scheme.

Thurrock Gazette:

The seat was originally held by former UKIP councillor Kevin Wheeler until he resigned.

The figures are:

Conservatives - 696 (36%)

Labour - 696 (36%)

Thurrock Independents - 531 (28%)

Rejected - 6

Total turnout - 1929 (25% of voter population)