SANDBOURNE has been suggested as the name for the new unitary council covering the conurbation.

David Trenchard, of campaign group Uniting the Conurbation, said the title, drawn from the novels of Thomas Hardy, would preserve the identities of the combined towns.

“It would be like Torbay council in Devon, which covers Torquay, Paignton and Brixham,” he said.

Bournemouth appears as Sandbourne in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, where the character Angel Clare is struck by the contrast between this “fashionable watering place” and the heathland elsewhere in the county.

The proposition could prove more controversial than Mr Trenchard expects however, as Poole also has its own unique moniker in Hardy's 'Wessex', based closely on Dorset's geography.

Poole appears in The Mayor of Casterbridge as Havenpool, the port through which Richard Newson returns to the country.

The names of the new authorities are likely to be decided within the next few weeks as a priority to aid clarity in future discussion.

'South East Dorset Council' is another which has been mooted for the conurbation authority.

Uniting the Conurbation has enthusiastically backed the Future Dorset proposal.

“When we started our campaign six years ago we didn’t expect to be as close as this so soon,” said Mr Trenchard, who lives in Christchurch.

“I am sure people who live here will soon see a difference, and I still can’t understand why people are anti.”

He said the move would allow for more ‘joined-up’ planning on issues such as reducing congestion, and denied the plans would reduce the voice of Poole and Christchurch residents.

“At the moment decisions about Christchurch are made by Dorset county,” he said.