ELATED Labour celebrated a hard fought victory in the hotly contested West Green by-election despite fears of a fuel crisis backlash.

Robert Hull beat Crawley Hospital Campaign s Garry Commins into second spot in what turned out to be a two horse race, and dedicated the win to the memory of the late Tony Edwards.

He said: This result is a tribute to Tony Edwards.

The battle for a new hospital in town and bitterness over the decision to move vital services to East Surrey dominated the election build up.

Despite losing by 151 votes Crawley Hospital Campaign candidate Garry Commins was a clear second and remained upbeat after slashing the Labour majority by a whopping 373.

He reckoned: We set out to get our point across that we need a new hospital in this town now, not in 15 years time.

All the candidates have been following our lead we were the only party to have the hospital at the forefront of our campaign, we set out to fire a warning shot across the Government s bows.

Robert stressed West Green is more than just a hospital and pledged to work towards improving the neighbourhood - one of Labour s strongholds.

He declared: I m pleased to be chosen to serve the people of West Green.

The Labour Party will be working full square to obtain a new hospital.

The people of West Green have shown that they trust Labour to deliver, it is more than the hospital, it is the every day lives of the people of West Green.

It s my intention to to represent the people in all aspects of their lives.

The fuel crisis reached the election as Tory candidate Jacki Kingsford was absent due to a lack of petrol, she managed third place.

One observer reckoned: ``It s ironic that when everyone thought it would be Labour hit by the fuel crisis it was the Conservatives who actually suffered the most.

And it turned into a disastrous night for the Liberal Democrats, Kevin Osborne polled just 38 votes - three percent.

Niall Mitchell of the UK Independence Party made 56 votes and Independent Barbara O Brien scored just 41.