A CAMPAIGNER has printed 50,000 leaflets claiming local government reform is a “scam” designed to use Christchurch to stabilise the finances of Bournemouth council.

Alistair Somerville-Ford, who has threatened a legal challenge if the Future Dorset goes ahead, has produced a leaflet called The Great ‘Local Government Reorganisation’ Scam.

Its cover adds the words “brought to you from Bournemouth Town Hall”.

The leaflet claims the plans for a new council combining Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch were driven by Bournemouth council and its leader Cllr John Beesley.

Dr Somerville-Ford said: “This is my battle to save Christchurch. That is what it’s all about.”

He says in the leaflet that he has spent “a number of months investigating the process” which led to the super-council plans.

He claims a prolonged council tax freeze on Bournemouth council boosted the popularity of the Conservatives there but left the council in difficulty.

“The problem was that John Beesley didn’t increase rates for eight years. If you don’t do that as a council, you do not have the money to meet the increasing costs of everything, even due to inflation. You just can’t run a business like that,” he said.

In the leaflet, he claims Christchurch is “the only Dorset borough with a solid asset and income base”.

He writes: “It also has enormous potential for increasing its income in the next 10 years and this income could be used to hold off, and certainly mitigate, both Bournemouth’s and Poole’s financial problems.

“One thing is absolutely clear and that is that those who designed the LGR plan had to make absolutely certain that the 750,000 residents of Dorset and in particular those in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch did not have a true or genuine vote on the proposals.”

Dr Somerville-Ford goes on to say that “any attempt to try to force Christchurch into Bournemouth will result in an application for a Judicial Review”.

Christchurch council leader Cllr David Flagg said in a statement: “We are aware of the leaflet being distributed and the information regarding the Christchurch Borough Council’s chief executive is inaccurate and misleading.”

Jane Portman, Bournemouth Borough Council’s managing director, said in a statement: "We are aware of this leaflet and its distribution. The information is completely inaccurate and makes misleading claims about Bournemouth Borough Council."