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New Forest District Council pick Cllr Alan O'Sullivan as its 2022/23 chair and Cllr Neville Penman as vice-chair

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A SECRET ballot chose two "hard working" New Forest district councillors to be the authority’s next chair and vice-chair.

Cllr Alan O’Sullivan was chosen to be the council's civic head despite missing the full meeting after a positive Covid-19 test.

He was nominated by the ruling Conservative group as the chair for 2022/23.

Cllr Alan O’Sullivan
Cllr Alan O’Sullivan

However, the opposition Liberal Democrat group put forward an alternative candidate, Cllr David Harrison.

It went to a secret ballot, with Barton ward member Cllr O’Sullivan winning by 36 votes to eight.

Fellow Tory Cllr Steve Clark said: "He’s hard working, regularly attends meetings and has a sense of community. He is a social man as well and you need to be social if you're in that role.

"He will do an excellent job and will do it with a smile on his face and with all the necessary dignity that the role requires."

Current chair Cllr Derek Tipp said: "Alan has a blend of experience, calmness and reliability. I couldn’t think of a better person to be chairman."

Cllr Neville Penman
Cllr Neville Penman

The Tories nominated for vice-chair Cllr Neville Penman, who has been shortlisted for a Community Hero accolade in this year’s Municipal Journal Achievement Awards.

The Lib Dems offered Cllr Jack Davies, saying he would demonstrate to younger people they can achieve things in local politics.

However, Totton North member Cllr Penman won in a 35-9 vote, after Conservative colleagues offered tributes for the work he does for local groups.

Cllr David Russell said: "The amount of work this boy does – and I always call him 'boy' by the way – is amazing. He works so hard."

Cllr Alexis McEvoy added: "The impact you make on everyone you come across be they residents or friends is absolutely enormous."

The role of chair is expected to be politically impartial while chairing full council meetings, and requires attendance at functions to represent the district.

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