The ruling Independent Plus Group retained its majority with the election of Rob Summons in the crucial Burton and Rosemarket by-election last night (Thursday).

Some 665 went to the polls to elect their new member - 45% of the 1,489 people eligible to vote - at pollings stations at Burton Jubilee Hall in Houghton and Rosemarket Village Hall, which opened from 7am to 10pm. Independent Plus Group candidate Rob Summons received 291 votes, with Conservative candidate Robin Wilson coming in second place with 166 votes, followed closely by Labour's Robin Howells with 162 votes. Independent candidate Jon Harvey received 46 votes.

Dozens of people turned out to watch the count at Burton Jubilee Hall in Houghton, including Pembrokeshire County Council leader Jamie Adams, whose group's majority hung by a thread with 30 members compared to 29 of the combined opposition before last night's victory.

Rob Summons, who replaces David Wildman following his retirement on March 1st, said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be elected to serve the people of the Burton and Rosemarket area I was born in. Now is the time for me to put something back into the community for the people.

"I have to go in and look at the job and plan the job. During the campaign I have identified issues that need to be addresses and we will start to look at those." Dog fouling, speeding, planning and roadways not being adopted were just some of the concerns raised by the electorate during the campaign" Mr Summons said.

"I'm very pleased for Rob," Cllr Adams said. "I think, knowing him as I do, he will make an excellent councillor and his primary concern will be his ward. "That is, of course, not the only role of a councillor and I know Rob will make an excellent contribution in County Hall, looking at collective issues."

Speaking after his defeat, second place Conservative candidate Robin Wilson indicated he would stand as a candidate again in the future. He said: "It's obviously disappointing. This is the first time I''ve stood for an election like this and it hopefully won't be the last. I wish the new county councillor the best of luck."

Labour's Robin Howells thanked the candidates for a "great campaign" and also wished Mr Summons well in his new role. He added: "I'm very pleased with the votes. I only lost by about four votes from second place. I think this puts Labour in a strong position in this ward.

"My thanks go to everyone who voted for me and to the Labour party in Pembrokeshire."

Independent Jon Harvey said: "I would like to congratulate Rob Summons on his victory. I'm sure he will do a good job for the ward being a local boy. "I'm obviously disappointed the Independent Plus Group retains its majority given the appalling issues that have arisen in the last few months and years." Before the count, Pembroke Town Councillor Harvey said it had been a very fair contest, but spoke of the difficulties of standing as a candidate without any party backing.

"It's very difficult being a truly independent candidate with no foot soldiers to do the canvassing but myself."

He added: "The support from the ward has been great. I've enjoyed meeting residents and talking about issues specifically relating to Independent Plus."

Rob Summons was one of the first candidates to publicly state his intention to stand as a candidate for the Independent Plus Group before a vote. Well-known in the Haverfordwest sports world and beyond, Mr Summons is the Haverfordwest County AFC chairman and former police officer, who had the backing of former ward councillor David Wildman.

Before the election, Mr Summons, who lives in Rosemarket, pledged to be "truly independent in matters that would affect my constituents."

He said: "The Independent Group does not have a whip as other party political parties do.

"However, on matters that affect our county overall it is important there is a strong collective voice. The Independent Group on Pembrokeshire County Council has continually proved to be one of the best performing authorities in Wales.

"At the same time they have managed to keep your council tax, consistently, the lowest in Wales, without reduction in services and indeed no redundancies as with other authorities in these hard economic times."