An Andover IT Manager has said that he wants to “offer a helping hand” after joining the town council.

Jason Sangster was chosen alongside Nicholas Asamoah to join the council in October following a contentious decision to exclude the public from hearing their pitches.

Now the Advertiser has sat down with the independent councillor to hear about his plans for town.

Jason is an Andover native, having lived in and around the town “for all of [his] 35 years,” with his family still living close by. After spending some time travelling when he was younger, he says that he’s learnt to appreciate what the town has to offer.

“I’ve seen a lot of places in the world,” he said. “My wife’s from Laos, and you see different areas and different towns and different ways people live. When you live somewhere for a while, a lot of people lose that appreciation. We’re lucky to have a reasonably friendly town and beautiful countryside in the area and the infrastructure we have. It’s a nice place to live really, hence a lot of people moving here.”

Having developed his skills as an IT professional over the years, and with his son having just started school, Jason says that it made him “want to do more in the town.”

He said: “It opened my eyes as to how I can give back more.”

As a result, he decided to apply to join the council, though admits he “wasn’t overly aware of the current situation the council were in.”

He said: “As they say, ignorance is a bit blissful. I have very much studied and talked to people and caught up to the situation but I wasn’t aware of it going in. I don’t think it would have changed my decision but it would have made me prep a little bit more.”

As a keen collector of militaria, it may be easy to assume that Jason is ready to go in guns blazing, but he says that’s not the case.

“I’m hoping to bring a bit of balance,” he said. “People are either on this side or that side, which is hampering things getting done, whereas I just want to get them done. It’s hard, but sometimes you have to forget about past wounds and just get over it and move on.”

Jason says that he thinks he’s already done this, being the only councillor to abstain in the vote of no confidence against Richard Rowles last week.

“I abstained because you have to be informed to vote or make a valid decision, and I don’t think I had enough information,” he said. “It was just hearsay.”

He said that he hopes to work with the various councillors to put the dispute between parties to bed, but says he has “no idea how that’s possible at the moment.”

“It’s a tricky one,” he said. “There’s obviously councillors there with the same frame of mind, like Cllrs Luigi and Hughes, who just want to get on and make the town better. This party politics is just getting in the way of things.”

He says that being an independent councillor, who is not a member of a political party, will help him get things done for Andover.

“Being an independent means I can do what I believe is right or what I believe the best course of action is,” he said. “At the end of the day, you find it with politics all over the world that you’re getting labelled: you’re left, you’re right, you’re this.

“My philosophy is everything in moderation and you’ll have a happy life, so I’d be a moderate. Then again, labels are quite dangerous I believe. Can you just be classified as one thing?”

One of Jason’s priorities is improving Andover’s development, which has seen him work on the Visit Andover website. However, he’s starting small at the moment.

He said: “There’s a lot of finding my feet and talking to other councillors and seeing how I can help them with their projects. I’m finding out what’s important to them and offering a helping hand and my skills.”

He says that government IT has something of a reputation, so he’s hoping to improve the council’s tech aspects.

“National government, let alone local government, aren’t known for their efficiencies when it comes to IT infrastructure, so just making little improvements here and there will help,” he said.

Looking to the future, he’s looking forward to getting involved in the big issues that affect the town, including getting minority groups more involved with local politics and the redevelopment of the town centre. With the latter, he looks to his place of work in Newbury for inspiration.

“It’s about amending towns to adapt to change,” he said. “I believe Andover’s doing the right things, a bit like Newbury. You’re bringing in people living in the actual town more, rather than just offices, because offices are just empty at weekends and it kills the town. Having better pathways and less roads within the town is what Newbury did and it really improved footfall and the ambiance.”

He admits that the masterplan “could be controversial for some,” but says that it may be a necessary change for Andover.

“I think sometimes you just have to make change to move forwards,” he said. “Sometimes any change is better than not doing anything at all.”