Labour held on to its seat in Vicarage as candidate Mo Mills won the ward’s by-election by a large majority.

The first-time councillor took 52 per cent of the votes cast, a total of 917 of the 1,742 ballots counted.

The result meant the party retained the seat vacated by Tanveer Taj, who stepped down for personal reasons earlier this year.

Speaking shortly after the result, Mrs Mills, who has lived in Vicarage ward for 44 years, said: “I feel quite delighted. I couldn’t have done it without the help of a fantastic team. I need to find my feet and then think about what I can give to the residents of Vicarage.

“I feel there is a divide in the town between West Watford and the rest. I want to show people what a culturally diverse ward this is and what it has to offer.”

In second place came the Liberal Democrats, whose candidate Philip Gough received 403 votes, or 23 per cent of the total.

The biggest shock of the evening came with the announcement that the Conservatives were left in last place, behind two independent candidates, taking just 95 votes - six per cent of the total.

Labour’s majority represented a 2.3 per cent swing to the party from the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats claimed to have lost votes to independent candidates Mohammad Azam (190 votes) and Paul Baker (129 votes) but said they remained positive about the result.

Liberal Democrat Mr Gough said: “It is disappointing but we can keep battling on – there is still work to be done and we need to believe in what we have achieved.

“We haven’t let the side down and there is no reason we can’t come back in May and get a victory.”

Turnout for the by-election was 29.4 per cent, with 1,742 votes cast from a possible 5,902 registered voters. The figure was more than ten per cent down on May’s election, which boasted a turnout closer to 44 per cent.