A genteel society is in turmoil over accusations of members breaking ranks and an alleged power struggle.

The wealthy and influential Regency Society has been riven with divisions ahead of a vote tonight where two of its most senior members will face expulsion.

The pair, former Labour councillor Delia Forester and retired hotelier Audrey Simpson, have been accused of undermining the society by publicly backing proposals for 1,300 flats at Brighton Marina.

It was the second time they fell foul of the group, after also backing controversial plans for penthouses on the roof of The Old Market arts venue in Hove.

But now they and other members of the society's committee have alleged that two colleagues, Roger Amerena and Jim Gowans, are using the issue for a deliberate plot to get rid of them.

Some went on to accuse Mr Amerena of attempting to clear the way so he could take over as chairman of the 370-strong conservation group next year.

He has denied the allegation.

The society has been the most respected authority in the city on conservation issues since its formation in the 1940s.

It is consulted by Brighton and Hove City Council on proposals and has been a key voice on controversial plans.

It has almost £100,000 of investments, an income of more than £20,000 a year and owns several city artefacts.

Many of the 14-strong committee were unwilling to publicly comment ahead of tonight's meeting.

One who did was Robert Nemeth, a Conservative party activist, who said Ms Forester and Ms Simpson were been harshly treated for "naivety".

Several of the committee said Mr Amerena and Mr Gowans had been recruiting new members in recent weeks who could swing the vote to expel the pair.

Mr Amerena denied the claims against him and said he had no desire to become chairman of the society. He said he was already full-occupied by his role as chair of a smaller group, the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Association, and vice-chairman of the city's Conservation Advisory Group.

He said: "All this vote is about is getting the society back on track as a conservation group."