POLICE and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill has dubbed a veteran Poole councillor an “out of touch, out of date joke”.

Mr Underhill made the remark about Parkstone Conservative councillor Ann Stribley as he waded into the row over the de-selection of former Poole council leader Elaine Atkinson.

In a tweet which has since been deleted, Mr Underhill said: “What a sad day for democracy when a titan such as Elaine Atkinson, MBE, ex-mayor, ex-leader and massive social campaigner loses in councillor nomination to an out of touch, out of date joke like Cllr Stribley.”

There will be around 50 fewer seats on the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole authority than on the existing three councils.

Cllr Atkinson and Cllr Xena Dion – also a former mayor – were not chosen by their local Conservative branch to contest the Penn Hill seats, which they currently represent.

Instead, Mrs Dion’s husband was chosen in the ward, along with newcomer Tony O’Hara. However, the Echo understands Cllr Dion has since been selected to run in the Poole Town ward.

Cllr Stribley, who was selected to stand again in Parkstone along with Cllr John Challinor, told the Daily Echo: “Mr Underhill speaks with total inaccuracy and in ignorance of the facts.

“It was Penn Hill ward members who failed to readopt their two sitting councillors in favour of others, who apparently they believe would better serve the ward.”

Cllr Stribley, who has been on the council since 1977, has twice been mayor and received the MBE in 2012 for services to the community.

She said she had been in “complete disfavour” with Mr Underhill since voting against his £12 rise in council tax precept.

She added: “Perhaps Mr Underhill should concentrate on supporting and improving Dorset Police rather than intervening in matters which he knows nothing about, and about which he has plainly been misinformed.”

Mr Underhill was not available for comment at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Borough of Poole Lib Dem Cllr Vikki Slade, also took to social media to voice her dismay at the Penn Hill ward decision.

She tweeted: “Utterly appalled that @CllrElaine and former mayor Xena Dion deselected – both social minded, fabulous campaigners who should be helping us form the new council.”

Another former mayor, Cllr Lindsay Wilson, failed to become an approved candidate.

Poole leader Janet Walton, who leads the shadow executive for the new authority, has been reselected for Oakdale with Ian Potter.

Veteran Borough of Poole councillors Les Burden and Ron Parker have also not been reselected.

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

The new council will be the 12th largest in England, represented by 76 councillors.