A NEW town mayor will not be elected until next year after councillors voted by the narrowest of margins.

Andover town council held its first meeting since the coronavirus outbreak via online platform Zoom on Tuesday evening.

Those in attendance agreed not to hold an annual mayor making meeting, in which new mayoral appointments are confirmed, until May 2021.

It means Councillor Richard Rowles will remain as chairman and town mayor until then, with Cllr Lauren Banville continuing as his deputy.

The decision was made after councillors voted in favour of the holding on until next year for the annual mayor making meeting by a margin of six to five.

Liberal Democrat councillors Barbara Long, Luigi Gregori and Robin Hughes, plus Cllrs Rowles and Alison Watts (both Andover Alliance) and Cllr Banville (independent) voted in favour. Cllrs Rebecca Meyer, David and Joanne Coole, Christopher Ecclestone (all Andover Independents Party) and David Treadwell (independent) voted against the plan.

It comes after “extensive conversations” were held with the authority’s solicitors about a controversial attempt to garner support to elect a new mayor this year, rather than next.

Those attempts led to Cllr David Coole visiting then-councillor Mick James while he was in hospital recovering from a stroke.

Mr James, who has since stepped down from his role as a town councillor, said he felt “pressured” into lending his support to the vote, as reported in the Advertiser.

However, it was later concluded that the attempts were “not a legally binding vote” and should therefore be treated as a “poll to gauge opinion” rather than anything more.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting ahead of the official vote, Cllr Rowles said: “We’ve been advised by the solicitors that this is how we should proceed. And I’m not going to go against the advice of Surrey Hills Solicitors, who are eminent in their field.”

Prior to the vote, councillors had unanimously agreed to adopt Zoom as its new platform for conducting meetings online. This comes at an annual cost of £119.90 to the authority.

Cllr Long’s declaration of acceptance of office was also formally after her by-election success in March.