THE Conservatives lost a crucial seat on Worcester City Council tonight following a dramatic win by Labour candidate Jenny Barnes.

Mrs Barnes' success in the St Clement ward by-election means the Tories no longer have overall control of the council.

Coun Simon Geraghty, leader of the council and the second St Clement ward representative, said the party would now need to take stock of the situation. "I am disappointed that we have lost this seat," he said. "It will be a time of reflection for us now, to look at the issues raised and consider them.

"We are still the largest party on the council and would looknow to form a minority administration."

The Conservative party had a one-seat majority on the council before former Mayor Ian Imray resigned earlier this year. The council will now be made up of 17 Conservative councillors, 13 Labour councillors, three Liberal Democrats and two independents.

A total of 1,423 votes were cast in the by-election, a turn out of 31.4 per cent.

Mrs Barnes said she was delighted to have won with 604 votes. "I am thrilled," she said. "I am grateful to all of the people who voted for me and I will now endeavour to take up all the issues raised, the main one of which was rubbish collections.

"I will be contacting people and doing my best for them and I am honoured to now take on this role."

Conservative candidate Lisa Ventura gained 478 votes, Peter Beechey, of the British National Party, gained 166 votes, UK Independence Party candidate John Butterfield gained 122 votes and Green Party candidate Olaf Twiehaus gained 52 votes.

Worcester MP Mike Foster said the result proved the people of Worcester were dissatisfied with the present situation.

"This is a fantastic result considering we lost so heavily in May," he said. "To win with a healthy majority is beyond belief. The simple message here is that Labour is back, both nationally and locally. The people have spoken - and they want their weekly bin collections."