Labour landed a significant blow by winning the Icknield ward by-election in Luton on Thursday from the Conservatives by just 22 votes.
It leaves the Tories with only three seats on the borough council. The Labour ruling group now has 33 councillors and the Liberal Democrats the remaining 12.
Asif Masood topped the poll with 585 votes, which was a 36.7% share of the vote.
John Baker came second for the Conservatives with 563 votes. He was defending the seat for the Tories, having also lost in Round Green ward in the May elections.
Steve Moore for the Liberal Democrats was third with 407 votes, while the Green Party candidate Marc Scheimann polled 37. But both of their party’s vote share went up from the May local elections, 12.1 per cent for the Lib Dems and 2.3 per cent for the Greens.
Long-serving Conservative councillor and former town mayor Michael Garrett had held the seat for 16 years.
He was first elected in May 1976 and served on the borough council for 35 years, with a gap from 1995 until his re-election in Icknield ward in May 2003.
The turnout was 27.01 per cent, with 1,595 verified votes counted, according to the council. The result was announced at the Town Hall by council chief executive Robin Porter.
Conservative Jeff Petts is the other Icknield ward councillor on the local authority.
The Labour Party for Barnfield and Icknield wards in Luton tweeted: “Tonight’s GAIN just proves that having a dedicated candidate and a strong Labour doorstep campaign really works.
“We’re so grateful for all the help from comrades from Luton and further afield.”
And Luton Labour councillors tweeted: “Great Labour gain in Icknield ward tonight!
“People rejecting the Tories for a progressive UK Labour Party.”
One of Labour’s messages on its by-election leaflets was that Mr Masood was the only candidate who lived in the ward. He came third behind Michael Garrett and councillor Petts at the May elections, with 787 votes. The two Conservative candidates were elected, having both received more than 800 votes.