THE former leader of Dorset County Council, Spencer Flower and his wife will be standing as Independents in an uncontested seat at the May local elections.

Cllr Flower, 72, of Aggis Farm, Verwood, was last month found guilty by a judge at Bournemouth of failing to comply with the Localism Act over a declaration of pecuniary interest in Synergy Housing at an East Dorset meeting on the controversial core strategy.

He was given a six month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £930 costs.

Details of candidates in next month’s East Dorset District Council election were released yesterday, and show that Cllr Flower and his wife Cllr Toni Coombs are standing as Independent candidates in their current ward of Verwood West. There are no other candidates for the seat so both will automatically be elected.

Cllr Flower had been suspended from the Conservative group since he was charged last December but there had been speculation he would reapply to join the group. Cllr Coombs, who was also a Conservative councillor, has joined her husband in choosing to stand as an Independent instead.

Cllr Ian Monks, the Conservative leader of East Dorset District Council, said: “It’s disappointing to an extent that we no longer have two Conservatives in Verwood and that Spencer and Toni Coombs are standing as Independents but politics is not everything in our role as elected representatives, it’s just a part of it.

He added: “I don’t know if Spencer will apply to come back into the Conservative group but if he does it will clearly be the other side of the election. We have a set of rules and if an application is made it will be considered by all members.”

The Verwood East, Handley Vale and Crane seats are also uncontested, with no-one opposing the Conservative candidates in all three.

Elsewhere, there are 66 candidates contesting a total of 12 seats. The local election will be held on Thursday, May 7, the same day as the General Election.