'STOP the mad rush'. That's the message from one Christchurch councillor, urging people to vote 'no' in the referendum.

County and borough councillor, Margaret Phipps, says information provided over the proposed merger is "now out of date" and the proposed savings can't be achieved.

Responding to a letter published in the Daily Echo from former Bath Travel boss Stephen Bath, Cllr Phipps, who is also chairman of Hurn Parish Council, described the letter as "propaganda".

His letter said: "It’s no surprise that all five Christchurch councillors who sit on Dorset County Council in Dorchester are all for keeping their positions, where they pick up an average of £20,000 a year each for a leisurely drive into the country once a month."

But Cllr Phipps strongly refuted this, saying: "The basic allowance is around half of that and he could have easily have looked it up."

She described the issue of Christchurch joining a unitary authority with Bournemouth and Poole as "complex", particularly regarding the number of councillors to represent the borough.

Calculated by population, Christchurch would end up with around nine councillors out of 76 to cover all the services, she claims.

Currently, there are 29 councillors dealing with all the issues required.

"With so few councillors in a new authority, Christchurch would never have a majority and would never be in control of anything in Christchurch any more", Cllr Phipps adds.

"This is particularly relevant to future housing where Bournemouth will be unable to accommodate its future housing need as required by government.

"Therefore, I have no doubt that Christchurch and Poole green belt will have to accommodate some of that future need and with so few councillors, we would not be able to protect our green belt boundaries."

She also said the Future Dorset financial calculations is "out of date", adding: "We will lose control of what happens in the borough.

"We need to stop this mad rush into all councils losing their boundaries, and have another look at the whole situation."

Matt Prosser, programme sponsor for Future Dorset, said: “Last month the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Sajid Javid, announced that he is minded to support the Future Dorset proposal, which set out our case for change and a range of costs savings, to be delivered over a number of years.

"We remain committed to achieving those savings, reducing costs to secure and strengthen public services in Dorset.”