A LETTER to residents groups from the Poole council leader which pre-empts a council decision yet to be made, has been slammed as "an abuse of power".

It concerns area committees which Borough of Poole is considering axing, to the dismay of many residents, and the decision is due to be taken at full council on December 15.

However council leader Cllr Janet Walton has invited selected residents to a meeting at the Civic Centre yesterday and the emailed invitation claims the decision has already been made.

It states: "You may have heard that Area Committees will be discontinued as attendance has declined over time rendering them no longer an appropriate means of communication."

Cllr Mike Brooke, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council said: "The decision hasn't actually been made. We are waiting for it at the December 15 council meeting.

"To announce ahead of the vote it's going to be closed is to my mind, an abuse of power."

An e-petition started by Cllr David Brown on the council website opposing the axing of area committees has attracted more than 200 signatures.

Cllr Brooke also said it was discriminatory, which was against council policy, as only selected residents had been invited.

The letter sets out the agenda, which includes the combined authority, business case for a new unitary authority, council budget and waste collection changes.

"Clearly she doesn't want to speak to the people in Poole who are prepared to speak out," said Cllr Brooke, who has been invited as a representative of Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum.

Cllr Walton has apologised for the letter signed by herself and deputy leader Cllr May Haines.

"A decision on the future of area committees will be made by all councillors at the meeting of Council on 15 December," she said. "The Deputy Leader and I would like to apologise for any misunderstanding on this matter that may have resulted from the invitation letter.”

She said they were keen to look at new ways of reaching a wide cross-section of residents and offer a forum where people could discuss issues important to them and the meeting was to test out this new approach.