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This Thursday voters in Gillingham, Shaftesbury and elsewhere in Dorset go to the pools new elect the first councillors to represent them on the newly -formed Dorset Council, which last month replaced Dorset County Council and district councils.

There are three seats up for grabs in Gillingham and two in Shaftesbury.

As well as the Dorset Council elections local towns and parishes are also holding elections today. Unlike in the unitary authority elections, candidates in town council elections do not usually stand on political party labels, though there are some exceptions and sometimes ad hoc groupings are formed for town council elections.

Gillingham Town Council

In Gillingham only four of the 17 council seats will be contested this year, and they are in the Wyke Ward. In the Rural ward Roger Weeks is standing uncontested and will be elected on 2 May, and the same applies to Graham Poulter in the Milton-on-Stour ward and Mike Gould, Paul Harris, Valerie Pothecary, John Robinson, Donna Toye and Barry Von Clemens in the Town ward. There remain three vacancies in the Town ward and two in the Ham ward. Five councillors not standing this year include current mayor Su Hunt, former mayors Belinda Ridout and David Walsh, plus veteran councillor Anne Beckley and Nicky Purkis.

The candidates standing for the four Wyke ward seats on 2 May are: Sharon Cullingford, Roger DeSouches, Rupert Evill, Alan Frith, Lee Gilbert and Michael Hill.

Shaftesbury Town Council

In Shaftesbury all 12 seats – split between the wards of Shaftesbury East and Shaftesbury West – are being contested on 2 May. One notable absentee from this year’s election is veteran councillor Anthony Austin, who no longer lives in the area.

Unlike in Gillingham there are some candidates standing under party labels – UKIP – plus others standing under a group called ‘Proud of Shaftesbury’ (PoS), with one standing under the label ‘Justice for Shaftesbury’ (JfS); the rest are standing as independents or with no stated label.

The candidates standing in Shaftesbury East are*: Piers Brown (PoS), Tim Cook, Virginia Edwyn-Jones (PoS), George Hall (PoS), Andrea Lucantoni (PoS), Simon Pritchard, Lester Taylor (UKIP), Jane Unwin (UKIP), Steve Unwin (UKIP), Matthew Welch (PoS) and Peter Yeo (JfS). Piers Brown, the current mayor of Shaftesbury, is also standing for the Conservatives in the Dorset Council election in the one-seat ward of Cranborne Chase towards Blandford.

Standing in Shaftesbury West are*: Alexander Chase (PoS), Steven Clinch, Michael Hicks, Andrew Hollingshead, John Lewer (PoS), Jeanne Loader (PoS), Andrew Perkins (PoS), Julian Prichard (PoS), Philip Proctor (PoS) and Samuel Skey.

*Independent or no stated affiliation unless otherwise stated.

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