BACK-UP boundary arrangements could see the number of councillors nearly halved in a new conurbation unitary council.

The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Joint Committee will next week consider the ward arrangements and number of councillors proposed, which will be put to the Government to consider - if the merger plan is approved by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

However, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government intends to order a formal boundary review, so the proposals considered on Tuesday are just a back-up should the review not be completed by May 2019, when the new council would begin.

The back-up proposals would see the three boroughs served by 76 councillors across 36 wards, down from 125 councillors at present and 39 wards and county divisions - excluding Christchurch's district wards.

The Bournemouth wards would be the same as at present, but with two members rather than three, reducing the total by a third from 54 to 36.

Christchurch would have five wards based on the current county divisions, but with two councillors each rather than one. Overall, Christchurch would go from 29 members to 10, a two-thirds reduction.

In Poole, six wards would be combined, specifically the east/west wards, to produce three - Branksome, Canford Heath and Hamworthy - each with three councillors.

The rest of the wards would remain, but with two members, for total reduction from 42 to 29 councillors, roughly a third down.

The Boundary Commission could introduce dramatic changes to current boundaries, however the overall number of councillors is likely to be similar.

The report to the committee prepared by Bournemouth council monitoring officer Tanya Coulter states: "It is necessary to ensure there are provisions setting out the size of the council, and electoral arrangements based upon existing wards and divisions, which would operate for the elections in May 2019 should a boundary review for any reason not have been completed.

"The key driver in considering options is the need to maximise electoral equality.

"This means that the aim is to ensure the number of electors per councillor in each ward deviates from the average by as small a percentage as possible."

The proposals would see councillors 'representing' a larger electorate, with roughly one councillor per 4,000 residents compared with roughly one per 3,000 at present.