EAST Dorset’s council leaders have rejected concerns about a proposed "super council" raised by politicians in the west of the county.

The Conservative chiefs of Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and East Dorset councils have been in talks since the beginning of the summer to combine their authorities.

They have done so in response to the government’s devolution agenda as well as in a bid to improve efficiency and attract more investment.

Some Weymouth and Portland councillors, however, described the discussions as “worrying” and “disappointing” during a recent meeting.

Conservative councillor Ian Bruce said the breakaway talks "came as a shock" while Labour councillor Mark Tewkesbury said he did not believe the East Dorset authorities could be trusted.

And Liberal Democrat councillor Ryan Hope said he was worried that the opinions of those opposed to the plans "will not be heard", with Labour councillor Penny McCartney adding: "Do we trust them?"

Christchurch council leader Ray Nottage, however, said it would be “remiss” not to consider the potential benefits of the authorities merging.

“We are looking at the best we can do for our residents in the circumstances presented to us by the government,” he said.

“I suggest that is what the west should be doing at the same time.”

Cllr Nottage added that councillors in the west are being kept up to date with the discussions.

Cllr John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth council, said: “We have had no direct discussion with Weymouth and Portland – and I think they must have misunderstood the proposal.

“We are following the government’s agenda on devolution of greater power and new opportunities for local authorities so I am surprised by the criticism.”

Poole council leader Janet Walton said it will be important to keep up good communication and that further talks with councillors in West Dorset are planned.

She added: “No final decisions have been made at this point – we are just exploring the possibilities.

“There is the plan for the single unitary authority for Dorset which is also receiving attention.”

The East Dorset “super council” would be the eighth largest local authority in the country with almost 500,000 residents. The authority could be in place by 2019.