A FORMER Mayor of Worcester is dumping his membership of the city's Conservatives - after being told he will not be allowed to re-contest his council seat in May.

Councillor Aubrey Tarbuck, one of the city's most outspoken politicians, has been "de-selected" for his safe city council seat of St Peter's.

The veteran Tory, first elected to the council in 1964, has hit out at a selection panel and claims the party thought the 83-year-old was "too old" to stand again.

Worcester Conservative Association has refuted the allegations and insists the process was entirely fair and above board.

Cllr Tarbuck was attempting to defend the seat again but was told several days ago he'd missed out during a hotly contested selection process.

He says he will allow his membership of the city's Conservative branch to lapse at the end of March and has not ruled out standing in St Peter's as an independent.

"I told them at the first selection meeting that I thought they'd de-select me and that's what happened," he said.

"I got to the executive stage and I didn't like the questions they were asking me, it was quite abrasive and the feeling I got was 'you're too old'".

"They didn't want to know, that's the way I see it. Some of them have only been there five minutes."

He says in recent days the party has asked him to reconsider his membership, and offered him the chance to stand in the safe Labour seat of St John's.

"They've been asking me to stand there instead and reconsider my membership but right now I'm not inclined to do that," he said.

"They haven't been kind to me. I'm sticking with that."

Cllr Tarbuck's selection process was handled by a six-strong panel of members, including former veteran councillor Mary Drinkwater and current politician Marc Bayliss.

Councillor David Tibbutt, chairman of the association, who was also involved in the procedure, said: "Everyone was handled fairly, it was all above board and the process followed was entirely correct.

"Everyone who reaches the end of their term either gets selected again or not, there's no such thing as being 'de-selected'.

"He's been a fantastic councillor for 40 to 50 years."

Councillor Roger Knight, a fellow St Peter’s politician, said: "After so many years associated with the city council dating back as far as the 60s, I sincerely wish Aubrey health and happiness for the future and if he does decide to retire may he thoroughly enjoy it."

The new Conservative St Peter's city council candidate is Mike Johnson, a retired former NHS worker and chairman of the Friends of Power Park group.

Cllr Tarbuck, who attended the Royal Grammar School in Worcester, used to work in the county council's audit department and at Lloyd's bank as a senior officer.

First elected in 1964 to Nunnery, he lost his seat in 1971 before re-joining the council in St Peter's in 1998.

He was the Mayor of Worcester in 2005/06.