Parish council election fever took over Four Marks as a battle raged over whether to spend £4 million on a community building at Four Marks Recreation Ground.

A full council meeting had been called for May 3 – just 12 hours before voting started in the first contested parish council election in 30 years – to seek approval for submitting a planning application to East Hampshire District Council.

But an article on the Herald website alerted villagers to the proposal and around 100 people turned up to express their views.

The council’s motion was carried after a lively debate but two days later the members who made the decision were swept aside.

Seven of the ten councillors stood for re-election in a field of 17 candidates but only Reg Pullen was voted back in, his 476 votes placing him tenth in the poll.

Eight of the other nine successful candidates – Tim Gebbett (881), Howard Briggs (877), Roger Speed (832), Michael Smith (818), Sarah Coulson (751), Paul McAllister (751), Karin Black (646) and Andrew Medhurst (538) – stood as Independents on the same election leaflet to combine their opposition to the community building. Kellie Knight took the other seat with 549 votes.

Michael Smith said a “very controversial issue” had prompted the election and he praised East Hampshire District Council for managing the poll in a “very professional manner”.

He added: “We will be representing all the residents of Four Marks.”