LOCAL councillors were denied a shot of being the Conservatives’ next MP candidate over fears they were “tarnished” by the expenses scandal, a senior Tory has claimed.

Bob Woollard said party bosses – who need to approve candidates – knocked back Wycombe councillors because they wanted “fresh faces” to fight the district’s seat at the next general election.

Mr Woollard, among councillors who failed to get onto a HQ controlled list of approved candidates, has now written to Tory leader David Cameron twice about his concerns. The party denied the allegations.

Wycombe Conservative Association – of which Mr Woollard is chairman – voted 38-year-old candidate Steve Baker the district’s Tory candidate on Saturday. Mr Woollard said he backed him “100 per cent”.

But the Buckinghamshire County Council member for Chiltern Valley said: “I think, due to this whole expenses scandal, it is almost as if by inference if you have been involved in politics then you are tarnished by it.”

He added: “I think that is an over-reaction. I know a lot of my colleagues up and down the country who give their absolute best for their localities. It should be a level playing field.

“If they want to apply that should not go against them. They have got to get the balance right when they revisit this.”

He said: “If they said they are looking for people with no political experience at all then I for one wouldn’t have bothered and I dare say other local councillors would have bothered.”

But a Conservative HQ spokesman today said: “The party’s list of candidates contains people from all walks of life including local councillors.”

Wycombe District Council deputy leader Tony Green, also among those local members who did not get onto the list, said he could not give a view on Mr Woollard’s comments as he had “no idea” what bosses were looking for.

But WDC leader Lesley Clarke – who did not try to get on the list – raised the issue of the lack of local candidates on the final shortlist of six.

She said: “Anybody would be disappointed that there weren't any local candidates but democracy ruled and we've come out with a very strong person.

“He knows the area and has lived here so I think he'll be really good.”

Meanwhile, current Wycombe MP Paul Goodman welcomed Mr Baker, a former RAF engineer who lived for a time in Walter’s Ash and now lives in Oxfordshire.

The Conservative MP said: “To win one's first-ever Parliamentary selection - against formidable competition - is extraordinarily rare.

“But Steve has managed it - and his achievement this weekend is a demonstration of his energy, gifts and enthusiasm, which I saw at first hand when I met him for the first time last week.

“He clearly has a passion for business, sport and, not least, social justice.” He said: “I suspect that local voters will warm to a candidate who isn't a professional politician, who knows the area well, and who's served his country in the armed forces.

“Steve is a daring, fizzy and exciting choice. One must never take results for granted - but I'm confident that in due course he'll be a first-class local MP, and I'm delighted for him."

Mr Baker was brought up in Cornwall and educated at a comprehensive school and Southampton University before joining the RAF, where he met wife Beth, a doctor for the service.

He is a director of think tank the Cobden Centre, which presses for banking reform, and an associate consultant to the anti-poverty Centre for Social Justice.

Each candidates was questioned for half-an-hour by party members. Other candidates were: Margaret Doyle from London, Fiona Kemp from Cornwall, Kwasi Kwarteng from London, Katy Lindsay from London and Jeremy Quin, who lives near Aylesbury.

The selection process had to be re-started in September after party bosses ordered it be scrapped because procedures were “not followed”.

Mr Goodman announced he was stepping down in May as he was disillusioned with Parliament.