GEORGE Beckett squeaked in as the new leader of Winchester City Council by one vote.

He returned to take over at the council after the recent elections left the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats tied on 27 members each.

At mayor-making the two Independents and one Labour councillor abstained, leaving the vote on the new council leader set to be decided by the new mayor Barry Lipscomb, the member for Wonston and Micheldever.

However Daryl Henry, the Lib Dem councillor for Colden Common and Twyford did not attend the meeting allowing the Tories to squeeze home by 27 votes to 26.

The city council cabinet met yesterday and one of the first items on the agenda was lifting Sunday parking charges in the city centre.

Another controversial issue set to rise up the agenda is the idea of a science park at Bushfield Camp on the southern edge of the city.

The new mayor is the former chief immigration officer at Southampton Docks. Cllr Lipscomb was in charge from 1975 and also at the time of the Falklands War in 1982.

Cllr Lipscomb said it was a “massive privilege” to become the 812th mayor in Winchester history. His three nominated charities are Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, Wessex Cancer Research Trust and The Rifles Care for Casualties Appeal.

The Conservative party have formed a minority administration and now have eight portfolio holders making up the Cabinet.

Cllr Beckett will take responsibility for the local economy, tourism and communications, with a focus on major projects.

He said: "I am very much looking forward to another term as leader of the council and have clear plans and priorities that we want to take forward promptly. The portfolio holder positions we have created provide our residents with clear line of responsibility and accountability and will make it easier for them to contact the right person and get assistance more quickly.”

Portfolios allocated to other Cabinet members are as follows: John Cooper – deputy leader and portfolio holder for communities, safety and public health; Keith Wood – finance and estates; Stephen Godfrey- administration, innovation and improvement; Tony Coates – strategic housing and landlord services; Patricia Stallard - culture, heritage and sport; Victoria Weston - environment and transport; Rob Humby – planning and enforcement.

Chairmen of Council Committees are: Licensing and regulation – Fiona Mather; Planning development control – Ernie Jeffs; Personnel – Roger Huxstep; Principal scrutiny – Colin Chamberlain; Audit – Jean Hammerton.