New Gosport mayor chosen after predecessor quits over pub ban

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LEADERS are hoping a town’s first citizen can restore public confidence after his predecessor quit over a pub ban.

Councillor Keith Gill was elected mayor of Gosport last night, replacing Cllr Wayne Ronayne who quit after being put on Pub Watch.

Keith Gill and his wife Eira after he was last made mayor in 2007

Keith Gill and his wife Eira after he was last made mayor in 2007

Cllr Gill said: ‘It’s up to me as first citizen to set the high standard.

‘I don’t want to look back, I want to look forwards.’

‘People of Gosport look to the mayor as the first citizen and the first citizen has a duty to be almost perfect.

‘You’re in the spotlight the whole time – and you’ve got to be very conscious of what the people expect from their mayor and the mayoress.’

It comes after Cllr Ronayne was banned from 36 pubs and clubs in Gosport following an alleged incident in Wetherspoons pub The Star, High Street, on the day he took up the chains of office on June 4.

He appealed the ban but the Pub Watch committee said it examined CCTV and saw his group was asked to leave four times and did not leave.

Paula Carter, then the mayoress, allegedly told staff at the pub they could have the place closed – and said the same to staff at another pub.

Now political party leaders are looking to Cllr Gill to lead the way as mayor.

Labour leader Dennis Wright said: ‘Keith is going to have a lot of work to do to restore confidence in the mayorality.

‘I am sure that if there wasn’t the ongoing gossip the new mayor can restore faith.’

Liberal Democrat leader Peter Chegwyn added: ‘It’s been sadly tarnished.

‘I really do hope he can unite the council and bring back some dignity to the post.’

Cllr Gill was mayor in 2007 with his wife Eira, who is now once again the mayoress.

Tory leader Cllr Mark Hook said: ‘We do need that period of stability. (Keith is) well respected and has got the experience.’

Cllr Ronayne watched on last night from the Tory backbench as councillors elected Cllr Gill as mayor.

But when approached by The News after the meeting he said: ‘I have nothing to say.’

Pub ban led to charity snub, failed appeal and quitting

JUST hours after his mayor-making ceremony Wayne Ronayne was allegedly involved in an incident in a pub.

Gosport’s Pub Watch acted swiftly and banned him from 36 pubs and clubs from the town for six months, with the mayoress receiving a 12-month ban.

The Gosport councillor and former Royal Navy warrant officer was then snubbed by a charity group. The Gosporteers had refused to elect him president, as is usual for each mayor.

Cllr Ronayne then lodged an appeal over the ban and still denies any wrongdoing.

But the Pub Watch appeal committee rejected his plea and the ban stayed.

Then just 40 days after taking up office on June 4, he stepped down from the post last Monday under huge public scrutiny.