A FORMER military man has promised to turn his sights on protecting the character of Pennington after winning a pair of by-elections for the Conservatives.
Retired army lieutenant-colonel Cllr Andrew Gossage saw off the other candidates to take the district council seat by 52 votes and the town council seat by 203.
The result is the Tories’ third NFDC by-election victory this year as the parties prepare for the approaching local elections in May 2019 when every district and parish seat will be up for grabs.
At the count at Lymington leisure centre, it was announced Cllr Gossage had gained 497 ballots against runner-up Lib Dem Jack Davies’ 445. Independent Ted Jearrad was announced third with 144 and Labour’s Catriona Hart last with 97.
Cllr Gossage won the Lymington and Pennington Town Council seat with 577 votes. His nearest rival was Mr Jearrad who gained 374 votes standing for Pennington Community. Labour’s Margaret Humphreys attracted 202.
Cllr Gossage (55) told the A&T: “It gives me the opportunity on both councils to represent the people of Pennington and I am very honoured to be elected.
“Having left the army five years ago I wanted to do something for the community and use my skills from the army to help with community administration.”
After growing up in Sway, Cllr Gossage joined up as a 19-year-old second-lieutenant from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and went on to pilot helicopters during a 31-year career.
Issues he promised to pursue included traffic safety in Pennington village centre and scrutinising NFDC over the proposed allocation of 100 homes in green belt between Lower Pennington Lane and Ridgeway Lane – which sparked residents’ protests and concern from Oakhaven Hospice.
He said: “I want to make sure that it’s appropriate development. I support it in principle but I want to make sure it’s adequately prepared and reasonably considered to maintain the character of Pennington but also provide housing.”
The result leaves the 60-strong New Forest District Council with 56 Conservatives, two Lib Dems and one Independent.
Asked how he would make his voice heard, Cllr Gossage said: “I think it’s a question of coming back to my experience as an army officer and just applying integrity and common sense in a straightforward approach.”
The district and town seats won by Cllr Gossage had opened up following the unexplained resignation in July by Tory Penny Jackman. She went bankrupt following a legal compensation case by UKIP candidate Mike Beggs who she slapped at a by-election count in 2012.
The Tories’ district council win is the latest in a string of by-elections this year in which they have comfortably fought off the opposition by holding Milford in April and Fawley, Blackfield and Langley in July.
If enough voters request one, there may be another one later this year in Totton Central following the death of Conservative Cllr Brian Lucas earlier this month.