LABOUR supporters celebrated a “seismic” election victory after winning their first seat on Worthing council for more than 40 years.

The party’s candidate Beccy Cooper claimed a shock win in the Worthing Borough Council by-election for the previously safe Conservative ward of Marine, more than doubling the votes the party gained in the ward only last year in overturning a Conservative majority of 546 seats.

Dr Cooper said the result felt like a “tipping point” for the traditional true blue area undergoing significant demographic change with a party energised by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The result registered at the very top of the party with the party leader and MP Angela Rayner congratulating her colleague on her historic win.

Conservatives played down the result claiming mid-term by-elections always throw up surprises with other parties lending their votes to send a message to incumbents.

Labour took 47.8 per cent of the vote, an almost 30 per cent increase in the party’s share, while the defending Conservatives’ vote dropped six per cent to 38.8 per cent.

The victory follows on from major gains the party made in Adur and Worthing in the last election when Dr Cooper more than doubled her party’s votes and Sophie Cook cut Tim Loughton’s majority from around 15,000 to 5,000.

The next indicator of Labour’s growth will be in May when 14 Adur council seats and 13 in Worthing will be up for grabs.

The by-election was called after long-standing Conservative councillor Joan Bradley stepped down in May after 13 years because of ill-health. She died just weeks later.

Dr Cooper, a public health consultant and mother-of-two, said it was a night of high emotion with several members in tears.

She said: “I’m just really surprised. We thought it would be close but we did not think we would win by such a margin, it was incredible.

“It definitely feels like a tipping point. In the past 18 months the Worthing CLP has definitely become more active with a lot more members and we are seeing a real demographic change with a lot more younger people moving into the area.

“We’ve already started talking about how feasible it would be to taking a considerable number of seats next year, until you have won that first one you are never quite sure.

“People have been inspired by what they have seen from Labour, Jeremy Corbyn is a real inspiration, we look like a party that will bring back fairness to this country.”

She said she would focus on improving healthy transport routes, open spaces and pushing for a new vision for Worthing’s seafront and town centre.

West Sussex County Councillor Michael Jones said: “This is seismic. In West Sussex politics terms, it’s the equivalent of the asteroid striking the Earth and wiping out all the dinosaurs.”

Councillor Paul Yallop, Conservative member for Marine, said: “By-elections are always unpredictable and often are used as a way of sending a mid-term message.

“While we are disappointed, I’m not entirely surprised. I believe at by-elections, people lend their votes to other parties. I have seen that elsewhere and I hope this is the case here but we won’t know until next May.”