CHRISTCHURCH council is holding an extraordinary meeting on Thursday next week to discuss holding a local referendum on the Future Dorset scheme.

The borough, alongside East Dorset and Purbeck district councils, rejected the proposal in January, and in March a referendum was approved, but later deferred due to delays in the Government reaching its decision.

The referendum would be a postal ballot, and residents would have just two weeks to return their ballot papers, after which a further meeting would be held to finalise the borough’s response to the Government consultation before the final decision in January.

Leader David Flagg said: “Councillors want to allow Christchurch residents to have their say. It is important we take into account their wishes as we are elected to represent them.”

The move was backed by Sue Bungey of the Christchurch Citizens’ Association, who said: “Sajid Javid has said local consent is needed so we need the referendum in Christchurch and residents can have their say. We need to galvanise the people and we need strong leadership.”

However Cllr Claire Bath said the referendum would be a waste of public money as it would “carry no weight and no credibility”.

East Dorset leader Spencer Flower said approval of the super council plan “validates our decision to join the Dorset Area Joint Committee” to ensure district residents are represented in the body.

“Further discussion by our elected members will determine whether there are any other actions we need to take,” he said.

Cllr Gary Suttle, leader of Purbeck council, said the authority had voted against the proposal in January and “this position has not changed”.

“Following the announcement by the Secretary of State, We will consider the implications for our residents and may make further representations during the consultation period.”