ISSUES among Conservatives in Christchurch spilled into the general election campaign season after a senior member of the local association’s executive resigned.

Rhys Gadsby stepped down from his post as deputy chairman of Christchurch and East Dorset Conservative Association this week.

Announcing his decision on Twitter, Mr Gadsby said: “I look forward to working with other Conservative candidates throughout Dorset over the coming weeks, but to continue in my current position would be ironic of me.”

The resignation came days after Mr Gadsby had posted about campaigning with Bournemouth West Conservative candidate Conor Burns, with no posts on Christchurch candidate Sir Christopher Chope’s efforts to regain his seat after being reselected by members.

Sir Christopher was heavily criticised for some of his actions in the House of Commons in recent years, primarily his attempts to block bills relating to legislation on female genital mutilation and ‘upskirting’.

Sir Christopher had not responded to approaches for comment at the time of going to press.

However, senior Conservatives in Christchurch were full of praise for the departed official.

Ray Nottage, former Christchurch Borough Council leader, told the Daily Echo: “You will not find a more hardworking Conservative than Rhys. He worked very hard in the local council elections earlier this year.

“In Christchurch we do appreciate the work and energy of people like Rhys and I wish him well.”

Asked if there was a split within the Christchurch and East Dorset Conservative Association, Mr Nottage said people could either act divisively or work together.

“Our view as rank and file Conservative members is we try to unite,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party candidate for Christchurch, Andrew Dunne, said his campaign launch in High Street was a “really positive day”.

Mr Dunne said: “I was surprised about the real angry sentiment towards our incumbent Chris Chope, and there is a real depth of feeling here that he has brought shame on our constituency and really let us all down with his blocking of the ‘upskirting’ and FGM bills.

“Topics of interest in particular that day seemed to be the NHS and housing.Local residents are really concerned with the cuts to local services and GP waiting times, alongside the need for truly affordable housing here.

“This was a really positive day, and signifies the start of our campaign here with our activists now going out in the week and a campaign stall every weekend in Christchurch and Ferndown/West Moors area to really let local people know that there is a choice for real change here too, and no seat is a safe seat.”

The election takes place on Thursday, December 12.