A NUMBER of high profile councillors have been axed by Tory party rank and file members in the selection of candidates for the new conurbation unitary council.

There are around 50 fewer seats on the single Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole authority than on the existing three councils.

The new body will be the 12th largest authority in England and will be represented by 76 councillors compared to 120 currently.

Among those who have been deselected by their local Conservative branches are former leader of Poole, Cllr Elaine Atkinson, and past mayor, Cllr Xena Dion both in Penn Hill.

Ironically Mrs Dion’s husband was chosen in the ward, along with newcomer Tony O’Hara.

Another former Mayor, Cllr Lindsay Wilson failed to make it past the process for rubber-stamping members as an approved candidate.

Veteran Poole councillors Les Burden and Ron Parker have also not been reselected. It is believed they both feel their age counted against them in the process.

Poole leader Janet Walton, who also leads the shadow executive for the new authority has been reselected for Oakdale with Ian Potter. Long standing councillor Ann Stribley and Cllr John Challinor are standing again in Parkstone as is Cllr Judy Butt in Creekmoor.

In Bournemouth, two councillors representing Kinson have been dropped, Cllr Mark Battistini and Cllr Amadeo Angelini.

Meanwhile, the borough’s deputy leader, Cllr Nicola Greene has transferred from the Wallisdown and Winton West ward to represent Westbourne and West Cliff alongside council leader John Beesley.

She moves into the vacancy left by Nick Rose who is not re-standing.

There are question marks over longstanding members as the number of seats in each ward goes down from three to two.

One Tory source in Poole told the Echo: “It looks as though there is a bit of political cleansing and score settling going on both here and in Bournemouth.”

In Christchurch, where only ten seats are up for grabs down from the current 24, no candidates have been selected. Existing councillors are still waiting to hear whether they are on the approved list drawn up by party officials.

Only when they have been approved can they be selected by the handful of members in local branches.

A number of Bournemouth councillors may consider standing in Christchurch if they can’t find a seat in Bournemouth according to a town hall source.

The political make-up from each of the three areas is critical for several reasons. Politicians in Poole and Christchurch are keen to ensure they have effective representation for their areas so that the new authority is not dominated by Bournemouth. The numbers will also be vital if there is a leadership battle on the new council.