A FORMER Worcester mayor who was controversially deselected from her County Hall seat has been pitted into one of this year’s most eagerly anticipated election battles.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson has been confirmed as the Conservative Party candidate for the Chase, in Malvern, for May’s county council contest.

The politician was de-selected from her current Nunnery ward seat three months ago amid claims she was “elbowed out” by a group of party members. The Chase seat is currently held by Liberal Democrat Councillor Steve Brown, who has a majority of just 90 votes, the smallest in Worcestershire. In contrast, the Nunnery ward has a majority of 127 and is being eyed up by the Labour Party as a potential coup this year.

Coun Brown is stepping down to run his own publishing business, and the Liberal Democrat candidate will be Malvern neighbourhood watch co-ordinator Martin Lawrence. Coun Hodgson said: “I’m very glad this has happened, and look forward to contesting the election – we feel this is winnable. There is a feeling within the Conservative Party that we are under-represented in the Malvern town area.

She has also admitted that she came out of the Nunnery ward fall-out “a bit battered and bruised” following Keith Burton’s selection as preferred Tory candidate.

“I have always wanted to carry on so it’s very pleasing for me to be able to contest this seat,” she said. Coun Brown said: “Martin is a local candidate and it will be an interesting contest, that’s for sure.” The move by the Tories is part of an attempt to switch focus on to the Malvern area, where there is a Liberal Democrat stronghold when it comes to county council seats.

In Powick, David Bicknell will battle against sitting Liberal Democrat Councillor Tom Wells, who is deputy group leader at County Hall and has a majority of 1,354.

And in Malvern Link, Conservative Paul Tuthill, Malvern Hills District Council’s current chairman, will take on sitting Green Party Councillor Clive Smith, who has a slim 169 majority.

Tory Phil Grove will contest the Hallow seat, taking over from current Councillor Alwyn Davies.