A CAMPAIGN to “unite the conurbation” has got off to a promising start, with business people, politicians and residents all pledging support, it’s claimed.

The first meeting to discuss the idea of creating a single unitary council for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole was held on Wednesday evening and supporters have now launched their manifesto.

This states that: “There are serious issues relating to better governance involving all citizens of the south east Dorset conurbation centred around Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

“We are a conurbation of 357,000 people, which approaches the size of Bristol and exceeds that of Cardiff and Southampton but is split into three or four local government units. This is hardly a case of small is beautiful because there is massive and very costly duplication of administrative resources across the board.”

It states there are two main benefits to joining forces – cutting costs and giving the area greater influence.

Bournemouth alderman Douglas Eyre, who chaired the meeting, said: “It was a fascinating mix of people – we had business people, one representative from a big residents’ association, and politicans from across the political spectrum. And there were representatives of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

“The business lobby is very strong, they just can’t wait and can’t understand why this has taken so long. There was a recognition there is a great deal of persuasion and discussion to be done so we are going to research the potential council tax savings and efficiencies and also look at how joining forces could benefit the area in key areas like the economy, transport and education.”

All three councils have already indicated they do not like the idea of a joint authority.

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, leader of the Borough of Poole, said: “We are successfully working together and have joint appointments in adult social services and Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset councils are all part of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership promoting growth in the economy. In addition, all adult learning services in Poole and Bournemouth are already merged and Dorset will join them in a move which will save the councils more than £700,000.

“Leaders of the local authorities meet regularly to explore further opportunities for joint working and services but we believe our unique identity as a historic borough is really important for the residents of Poole.”