Mayor of Gosport quits after pub ban appeal failure

LAST ORDERS The now former Gosport mayor Wayne Ronayne with the mayoress Paula Carter
LAST ORDERS The now former Gosport mayor Wayne Ronayne with the mayoress Paula Carter

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AFTER just 40 days in office the mayor of Gosport has quit his ceremonial role over a ban from the town’s pubs.

Councillor Wayne Ronayne resigned yesterday over an incident at Wetherspoon’s pub The Star in High Street, Gosport, that took place on the day he took office last month. It saw him banned from 36 pubs and clubs. Cllr Ronayne, a Conservative, is the first mayor in the borough to have left office before the end of a civic year, other than by dying.

He said he does not admit any wrongdoing but said there was a damaging public perception excessively fuelled by unwarranted social media coverage.

He said he was stepping down with much regret, adding: ‘My decision is not based on any admission of wrongdoing or my inability to undertake the role.

‘It is based on the now-damaging public perception of me that has been vigorously generated by certain members of our community.

‘I do not wish to bring the position of the mayoralty into disrepute nor tarnish the good reputation of Gosport.’

The former Royal Navy warrant officer remains a ward member for Christchurch, after narrowly beating his opponent by 16 votes on May 22.

As revealed in The News, Cllr Ronayne was given the ban after the alleged incident on June 4, when bar staff asked the mayor’s group to leave four times.

Police were eventually called and the group were escorted from the pub.

The mayoress, Paula Carter, allegedly told staff at The Star they could have the pub closed. CCTV shows her then trying to get into Nelsons bar, a few yards away.

She was refused and allegedly made the same claim to door staff.

Two days later Cllr Ronayne was given a six-month ban from Pub Watch and Ms Carter was given a 12-month ban.

Cllr Ronayne appealed his ban but it was rejected after CCTV was examined.

He added: ‘I will have to work hard to recover the damage to my reputation.

‘Thank you to all those who have given their support to me and the mayoress.’

The Gosporteers, who raise cash for the chosen mayoral charities each year, had refused to elect Cllr Ronayne as their president.

Brian Russell, of the group, said: ‘If he had held his head up at the time and apologised to the people of Gosport I don’t think this would have arisen.’

Leader of the council Cllr Mark Hook added: ‘Wayne is a man of high principles and standards.

‘This shows the character of the man, he has always put Gosport first. Wayne is a first-class councillor.’

A mayor will be elected next week.

An opposition politician says the mayor should have quit sooner.

Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Chegwyn said: ‘He’s done the right thing and the public will recognise that. But he should have done this a month ago.’

Cllr Chegwyn added that Cllr Ronayne’s chosen charities may now suffer if the new mayor picks different ones. Cllr Keith Farr is deputy and will carry out first citizen duties until a mayoral election is held next week.

Graham Sampson, 67, of Hartingdon Road, Brockhurst, was with Cllr Ronayne at the Royan twinning last month.

He said: ‘He’s a really nice bloke. He’s earned the right to be the mayor.’