A SECRET document leaked to the Standard this week has revealed a split among Tory politicians in the Cotswolds over the party's poor showing in May's local elections.

The leaked document reveals a crisis meeting was held on June 25, in which a group of defeated Conservative candidates expressed serious concerns over the party’s approach to the election.

Cotswold Conservatives lost 10 seats in the election, with nine out of ten wards in Cirencester now controlled by Liberal Democrat councillors.

The meeting was attended by Geoffrey Adams (candidate: Cirencester Park ward), Richard Buckley (candidate: Cirencester – Stratton Whiteway ward), Tony Curry (candidate: Cirencester Park ward) and Steve White (candidate: Cirencester – Watermoor ward), as well as district councillor John Burgess (Cirencester – Beeches ward).

The document reveals concerns within Cotswold Conservatives that the organisation is seen by voters as: "toffs legislating for toffs."

It is also argued that candidates in Cirencester wards had received little support from Gloucestershire Conservatives during the election.

Concerns were also raised about the impact of the cabinet’s links to Cotswold Media, which is run by cabinet leader Cllr Lynden Stowe (Campden-Vale ward) and also employs Cllrs David Fowles (Hampton ward) and Susan Jepson (Campden-Vale ward).

Cllr Fowles said he disagreed entirely with these claims.

"It’s not toffs legislating for toffs – its ordinary people legislating for ordinary people," he said.

"Our councillors are all from very diverse backgrounds, which reflects the diversity of people living in the Cotswolds and we try to pass legislation which serves them all."

Cllr Fowles added he did not believe his involvement with Cotswold Media affected his position within the cabinet.

"As one of those cabinet members who fought in a ward close to Cirencester it had no bearing on my election campaign and did not affect my result," he said.

"If anything I got a sympathetic ear on the doorstep from voters who valued my contribution."

Cotswolds Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said he shared the concerns expressed in the document.

"The result has obviously sent shockwaves through Tory ranks and they are right to fear they will loose control of the council in the next election," he said.

"At last the rank and file Tories are beginning to share our concerns and that is a very welcome development."

The document suggests a number of ideas to improve the party’s performance in future elections, including cutting council tax for the next four years and increasing volunteering and community participation among members.

It is also suggested the party should provide more support to candidates in the lead-up to elections, make literature more appealing and work towards improving its relationship with the press.