THE Mid Dorset and North Poole seat is likely to be a key battleground at next year’s general election, according to a poll carried out by Lord Ashcroft.

Held by the Liberal Democrats at the 2010 election with a majority of just 269 over the Conservatives, the peer is predicting from the poll results that it could fall to the Tories.

It was one of 17 marginal constituencies closely contested between the Tories and Lib Dems in which a telephone poll of 1,000 adults was carried out in May.

Across the battleground the poll found a 3.5 per cent swing from the Lib Dems to their coalition partners since the last general election.

Overall the research found the Conservative vote had fallen by eight points since 2010 but the Lib Dem share had fallen by nearly twice as much as many of the parties voters switch to Labour, Ukip or the Tories.

Annette Brooke, who has held the seat for the Liberal Democrats since 2001, is standing down in 2015 and candidate Vikki Slade, who aims to retain it for the party, pointed out the poll was taken during the European election campaign.

“However, we did win a district council seat in Lytchett Matravers on May 22 from the Conservatives so our vote is standing up well,” she said.

“We are now canvassing for a by-election in Colehill and the reception on the doorsteps is still very positive, so I am confident that we can retain this seat and continue the legacy of Annette Brooke through me for the next generation.”

Conservative prospective Parliamentary candidate Michael Tomlinson said: “We see it as winnable. The result was very, very close last time around. But we are not taking anything for granted.

“This is one poll. But it is very encouraging. We are going to have to carry on and work incredibly hard to ensure we win it.”