BOURNEMOUTH and Poole are missing from a list of potential “digital super towns” – because their councils are not yet part of a powerful “combined authority”.

A report for Vodafone ranked key towns and cities as “pacesetters”, “pillars” and “prospects” when it came to developing the digital economy.

But the study, Digital Super Towns: Unlocking the UK’s Digital Potential, omitted Bournemouth and Poole, despite successive Tech Nation reports pointing to its high-growth digital sector.

Vodafone’s research selected only areas where councils had created a combined authority to deal with strategic issues, saying this showed “identifiable interest in digital” and “the ability to set bespoke policy”.

It added: “There are obviously towns and cities outside of combined authority geography that have digital potential to realise.”

Dorset’s councils have proposed a similar combined authority. The idea is separate from plans to create two large councils instead of the present nine.

Gordon Fong, chief executive of Westbourne-based IT group Kimcell Ltd, was surprised Dorset was not in the Vodafone report.

“There’s been all this movement by the local community and thought leaders, even Bournemouth council with their Connected Bournemouth series of events,” he said.

“Have we reached the maximum level or can we continue to make it bigger?

“To have done this report with places that are similar and for Dorset to not even figure was strange,” he said.

He pointed out that the area had been selected as the base for a trials of a mapping tool for 5G technology.

The report calls for the creation of Digital Enterprise Zones, which it said could pave the way for “digital super towns” where the potential of tech was exploited to its fullest.

Cllr Philip Broadhead, Bournemouth council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The speed at which Bournemouth’s creative and digital sector is growing is recognised in the 2017 Tech Nation Report – a leading industry body – which shows Bournemouth has the fastest growing digital economy in the UK.“Bournemouth is unique in that it is a place where we have an endless list of award winning agencies all working together, and experimenting with the latest innovation and disruptive technology. This cross-industry collaboration, and our approach to nurturing new talent makes Bournemouth, and the surrounding area, the best place for digital and creative organisations to thrive.”

He added: “We have a strong history of working with partners to raise the profile of the area even more, whilst supporting our ambitions for the conurbation. Our work to grow the digital sector and attract investment based on the town’s digital offer continues apace.”