The Liberal Democrats have held the Grove ward by-election by the narrowest of margins - against a backdrop of a very low turnout.

Rebekah Moll defeated her closest rival Conservative barrister Adrian Amer by just 23 votes after a dramatic recount after midnight.

But only 25.7 percent of the electorate bothered to vote.

The new Lib Dem councillor said: "It feels great. After the recount it is always exciting and makes the high more dramatic I think."

Conservative Adrian Amer, who came close to breaking the Liberal Democrat's stranglehold on the ward, said: "I feel elated. Very encouraging. A positive result and I am proud of the result."

"I am happy with what we achieved. I am grateful for all those that voted for me."

Labour's Laurie South, whose share of the vote increased as he tried win a seat back on the council for his party, said: "On the doorstep a lot of people were saying we are fed up with this but we don't want a Tory and don't know what to do.

"We need real debate not vacuous throwing around of slang."

Last time, in 2010, the Liberal Democrats had a majority of more than 500 votes.


Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park and north Kingston tweeted to congratulate his colleagues.

He said: "It is an enormous victory. You've turned a rock solid Lib Dem seat - in the Lib Dem heartland - into a razor's edge marginal."

Adrian Amer (Conservative) - 687 votes

David Child (British National Party) - 23 votes

Ryan Coley (Green Party) - 123 votes

Rebekah Moll (Liberal Democrats) - 710 votes

Jonathan Rudd (Christian People's Alliance) - 20 votes

Laurie South (Labour) - 440 votes

Michael Watson (UK Independence Party) - 56 votes