SECRET interviews and voting resulted in a new member being welcomed onto New Milton Town Council.
Dean Samber from Barton was chosen from four candidates in response to a vacancy for co-option advertised following the resignation of Martyn Levitt.
The process is followed when not enough voters request a full byelection.
Each prospective replacement for the Barton ward was due to speak during the public part of a recent full council meeting before a vote in private.
But members agreed to conduct the entire business in private amid reservations about the public watching.
Challenged by the A&T over the council’s decision to go into private session, town clerk Graham Flexman maintained this was in line with its standing orders.
New member Cllr Samber (28) has a background in social care and currently works as a senior manager within the sector.
Mr Flexman declined to name the other three applicants, saying one had already requested that records of their personal details be deleted.
As reported in the A&T, former member Mr Levitt, who is also a New Forest District Council member for Bransgore and Burley ward, stepped down in June after a year in the post, citing too many work commitments.