Voters celebrated last night as the British National Party failed in its latest bid to get a councillor elected in Sussex.

Despite coming third out of three, its candidate in a district council by-election in Yapton still secured almost 20 per cent of the vote and missed the runner-up spot by seven votes.

BNP candidate Albert Bodle, who runs the Selwood Lodge guest house, in Victoria Drive, Bognor, got 205 votes in the Arun District Council poll.

Second was Liberal Democrat David Jones with 212 votes while Conservative Emma Neno won the seat to become the ward councillor with 620 votes.

Coun Neno, 30, now the youngest member of the council, said she was relieved that the BNP did not get in and that she wanted to do her best to represent her community.

She said: "I'm delighted. We put a lot of work in and obviously are pleased with the result.

"We did a lot of knocking on people's doors and talking to a lot of residents rather than just putting leaflets through the door.

"I'm really looking forward to representing the residents on Arun District Council."

Fellow Conservative ward councillor Stephen Haymes congratulated Coun Neno and said: "As I am a Conservative with her, I'm delighted to keep the ward fully Conservative."

Coun Haymes said he was relieved the BNP did not get in as their supporters had come out in force.

He added: "The turnout was very low and the weather was partly to blame alongside the time of year.

"It was too early. It was the BNP, they forced the election."

He said the major parties on the council were happy to let the seat, recently resigned by Dr Christopher Forrester, vacant until the next round of local elections.

Meanwhile the BNP had success in holding a party seat in Havering Borough, in London, prompting fears the party could gain as much as five per cent in May's assembly election.

The latest attempt by the BNP for election in Sussex comes after the party fielded several candidates in last May's council's elections and a recent parish council byelection where it scored a significant percentage of the vote.

In February BNP member Donna Bailey missed out on the hotly contested Upper Beeding Parish Council seat by just 20 votes.