IN the week when the national Lib Dem leader visits Bridport his party has been accused of being less than straightforward in its local election leafleting.

Sir Ed Davey was planned to be in Bridport on Thursday to support local council candidates and parliamentary candidate for the West Dorset seat Edward Morello.

As news of the visit was released Green Party Bridport councillor Dr Kelvin Clayton accused the Lib Dems of pushing out a “grossly misleading” leaflet through letterboxes in the town.

Said Cllr Clayton: “A Lib Dem election leaflet coming through Bridport letterboxes is grossly misleading. The leaflet, which is being delivered prior to local elections on May 2, and which focuses on their Bridport ‘local team’ uses data from the last general election, for the whole of West Dorset to imply that only they can win in Bridport. This is not true. At the last local elections, in May 2019, Green Party candidates came first and second in both (of the then) two wards on Bridport Town Council, and their candidate for Dorset Council (me) came second out of the three elected. Green Party candidates can, and do win in Bridport,” he said.

The party has also achieved another win locally with Belinda Bawden taking the previous Conservative seat in Lyme Regis.

In response a Lib Dem spokesperson said: “At the next General Election Edward Morello and the Lib Dems are the clear choice to beat the Conservatives. The Lib Dems came second at the last election while Labour have never won and the Green’s got a woeful 4%.

“Ahead of the local elections this May, many Labour and Green Party voters are already saying they’ll support us this time in order to beat the Conservatives - momentum is clearly with the Lib Dem team here.”

Meanwhile another claim about misleading Lib Dem leafleting had been raised in Weymouth.

Littlemoor and Preston Conservative councillor Louie 0’Leary says a Lib Dem leaflet being delivered in the area has a picture which suggests it was taken in the Littlemoor youth club.

Cllr O’Leary says it was actually taken at a meeting at the Redlands Sports Centre.

The criticism follow from former Dorchester Conservative councillor Gerald Duke insisting that he was featured, without his permission, in a photograph with Mr Davey alongside Dorchester North development protestors. He also said that an image, used in the photograph, belonging to him had been published without his permission.

Said chair of the West Dorset Liberal Democrat group, Dorchester councillor Andy Canning: "Everyone knows that elections in West Dorset are a contest between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Just look at the most recent elections.

In the 2019 General Election in West Dorset the Conservatives polled 33,589 votes, the Lib Dems polled 19,483 votes, Labour 5,729 and Greens 2,124. 

Earlier in 2019, in the Dorset Council elections covering the Wards that made up West Dorset, the Lib Dems won the largest number of votes cast with 35%, while the Conservatives came second with 33%, the Greens received 13% and Labour 8%.

In the same election, covering the whole of Dorset Council, the Conservatives won 43 seats, the Lib Dems 29, Greens 4 and Labour 2.

All of these elections show time after time that in West Dorset it comes down to a contest between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.

So, when was the last time that another party managed to get into the top two?  You have to go back over 50 years to 1970!"