MOST of Christchurch's battle lines have now been drawn for elections to the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council on May 2.

And former Conservative colleagues will be fighting it out against each other following the formation of the new Christchurch Independents group, which was announced last week.

The political situation seems to signal the final fracturing of the Conservatives on Christchurch council over the abolition of the three individual authorities and the conurbation merger.

Christchurch took the fight all the way to a judicial review, which ultimately failed.

There are ten seats up for grabs in the borough for the 76-seat council.

In the Mudeford and Stanpit ward, the mayor, Cllr Lesley Dedman, and Cllr Paul Hilliard – who both voted against merger – will stand as Christchurch Independents against Conservative former council leader Cllr Ray Nottage and Cllr Claire Bath, who both backed the merger proposal.

In the Town Centre ward, Conservatives Cllr Peter Hall and Peter Watson-Lee will face Christchurch Independents Cllr Fred Neale and Cllr Janet Abbott.

In Burton Grange, the current council leader Cllr David Flagg will stand as a Christchurch Independent with new candidate Simon McCormack.

The Conservatives do not appear to have candidates for this ward and it is not yet clear who they are fielding in Commons against Christchurch Independents Cllr Margaret Phipps and Cllr Colin Bungey.

In Highcliffe and Walkford, Cllr Trish Jamieson and Cllr Colin Jamieson will represent the Conservatives and will face Cllr Nick Geary, who has joined the Christchurch Independents.

Last week, the Echo revealed that the new Christchurch Independents group had been set up because of fears that the Conservative leadership in Bournemouth could try to dominate the new authority through a combination of sheer weight of numbers and the Tory whip.