A FORMER mayor of Poole has been elected to the vacant Canford Heath seat on BCP Council.

Conservative Sean Gabriel won by 41 votes over Liberal Democrat Jennie Hodges who had been hoping to win the seat which had been held by fellow party member Pete Parrish until his death last year.

Cllr Gabriel, who finished fourth in the election for the three-seat ward in 2019, overturned the 642-vote gap to take the seat.

Speaking at Friday's count, he said his election was a "massive honour" and that he was looking forward to being a councillor again.

"It's great that the residents of Canford Heath have trusted me with their vote and I will work hard to make what is already a brilliant place to live even better," he said.

"It's been a very difficult year for everyone, the council included, and I'm really excited to now be involved in the work to move us forward.

"I'm sure there will still be a few bumps in the road but we need to be positive and ambitious in helping our area bounce back."

The by-election was called following the death of former Lib Dem councillor Pete Parrish last year and had been delayed until Thursday by the pandemic.

Cllr Gabriel won 1,406 votes - 41 more than second-placed Jennie Hodges and will now represent the ward alongside Liberal Democrats Sandra Moore and Chris Matthews.

Turnout was 31.96 per cent.

The full vote was:

Sean Gabriel (Conservative): 1,406

Jennie Hodges (Lib Dem): 1,365

Janet Green (Labour): 335

John Sheldon (independent): 132

Ben Pantling (Green): 128

Vicky Spence (Ukip): 105