THE Conservatives have avoided having their county council majority wiped out after winning a by-election in Ross-on-Wye.

Richard Mayo secured more than half the vote in the three-way battle for the town’s West ward which was brought about by the death of long-serving Tory member Gordon Lucas late last year.

"I'm absolutely stunned to be honest," said Coun Mayo. "It hasn't sunk in yet."

Just over 1,200 voters turned out in a by-election which had wider significance, too, as the Tories would have lost their countywide majority had either the Lib Dem candidate Caroline Bennett or Independent hopeful David Ravenscroft won.

Coun Mayo, who owns and runs Truffles Deli in the south Herefordshire town, received 54.4 per cent of the vote having secured 695 of the 1,277 votes.

Mr Ravenscroft was second (312 votes) with Ms Bennett (270) in third.