A CONSERVATIVE candidate who was due to stand for county council elections denies he has been "dropped" by his party.

James Byrnes, who is a former Winchester City Council cabinet member was due to stand for the Itchen Valley Ward.

But in a sudden turn of events, he has dropped out, and instead standing for election will be Ernest Jeffs.

But a source has told the Chronicle that Cllr Byrnes could have been "eased out" and may have been dropped from standing.

Cllr Jeffs who is in his 80s, has also had to recently take the reigns at Alresford Town Council, after a series of resignations, and he is also a councillor at Winchester City Council.

On the Hampshire County Council website that details who is standing, it states that his proposer is a Kim Gottlieb, who has been at odds with Cllr Bryne's about many issues within the Conservative group in Winchester.

Cllr Gottlieb had also allegedly swore at cllr Byrnes during a council meeting.

A source told the Chronicle, that they felt that cllr Byrnes has been "hung out to dry".

The source said: "It happened very quickly, I believe he has been eased out."

"I think James Byrnes was a very effective member of the cabinet he was a strong performer, and the Winchester City Council cabinet is weaker without him.

"It is disappointing that he is not in a position to stand for the elections as he is a forthright capable individual."

Cllr Byrnes had also been endorsed on Winchester MP Steve Brine's publication on his website.

Steve Brine's endorsement of cllr Byrnes stated: “James was born and bred in Winchester and is a former prison officer. He would be a breath of fresh air if he’s elected in May. Above all, as a Conservative he would put party politics aside and use his ability to engage with County leaders to actually get things done for residents.”

However the councillor said will now no longer stand, and claims it was a decision he has made, rather than one forced on him.

Cllr Byrnes said: "I am thinking about being a Hampshire county councillor, but there was somebody else that wanted it more and I wanted to focus on my work in my current council ward."

He said he will stand as a candidate for the Hampshire County Council elections next year.

Meanwhile Ernie Jeffs said he is looking forward to standing at the county council elections, he said that he had been thinking about it for at least a year.

He joked that it is "another bother" but said he is keen on being a county councillor.

Cllr Jeffs said: "I was quite keen on it, I am a engineer by trade and I think there are engineering functions within Hampshire County Council, than there are within Winchester City Council.

"If I win the election I will have to give up, one of the of the councils I am on."

"I am looking forward to standing, I know the leader of Hampshire County Council fairly well and there is a number of Winchester city councillors at Hampshire County Council.

"He had to back out for some personal reasons, I do not know quite what those personal issues are."