The Liberal Democrats emerged victorious following a hotly contested fight with Labour in the central Watford by-election.

The party held onto the seat vacated by former councillor Chris Leslie when he took a job in the midlands with a slightly reduced vote share.

The Lib Dem Candidate Lizz Ayre won the Watford Borough Council seat with 716 votes. Her nearest challenger, Labour’s Avril Haley, won 550.

The Conservative candidate Binita Mehta came in third with 151 votes, the Green candidate Su Murray won 83 and the UK Independence Party candidate Renie Price won 59.

Following the result Lizz Ayre said: “I am very, very happy with that despite the very dirty campaign run by some people. I am also pleased it was a clear result.”

When asked what her priorities are for central Watford, she added: “To continue to make it a great place. I heard on the doorstep people say a lot of bad things, but it is a great place to live.”

The results represent a slight slip in the Lib Dems’ vote share, from 47 per cent to 45 per cent, compared to the last election in Central ward in May.

Labour improved on their May result going from 31 per cent to 35 per cent and the Conservatives remain on 10 per cent.

The Greens slipped slightly from six per cent to five per cent, as did UKIP, which went from four per cent to three.

After the count, Mike Jackson, chairman of Watford Labour said: "Avril has been a fantastic first time candidate. She has experienced the Liberal Democrats at their dishonest worst, but she has put Labour in a very strong position to win this seat back in 2014."