The leader of Christchurch council says he believes residents voting in elections next year will back candidates who tried to stop the merger with Bournemouth and Poole.

Cllr David Flagg spoke after leading a walkout of 12 Conservatives and two independents from the first meeting the shadow authority set up to take the merger process forward into 2019.

He read a statement to the meeting saying Christchurch would not take part because of its current legal challenge to the merger.

However, as soon as the councillors left, former leader, Cllr Ray Nottage, was elected chair of the shadow authority and several others pro-merger Christchurch members including Claire Bath and Lisle Smith were appointed to roles.

Cllr Flagg told the Christchurch Times: "Cllr Nottage has acted against his fellow councillors in his flouting of the council's policy on local government reform on many occasions and that policy reflects the clear wishes of the residents."

He added: “It was unfortunate that Cllr Nottage showed a lack of understanding of the reasons why 12 councillors had left the first meeting of the new authority. The borough council is not negotiating with anyone. We are involved in a judicial process and you do not negotiate with the law.”

Cllr Flagg described Cllr Nottage's appointment as "a slap in the face" for the people of Christchurch.

"We voted not to go into Bournemouth and Poole, but he and his colleagues have consistently gone their own way for their own reasons. I think the voters will remember that."

Cllr Flagg had made representations to Bournemouth's Tory leader, Cllr John Beesley and his Poole counterpart, Cllr Janet Walton, not to put Cllr Nottage forward, but he was ignored.

"There wasn't much goodwill evident towards Christchurch in their actions," added Cllr Flagg.

Cllr Beesley did not attend the shadow authority meeting.

One Conservative official said some of the pro-Bournemouth councillors in Christchurch might not be selected as official party candidates for the 2019 polls because they had flouted the ruling group's policy.

Cllr Flagg said if Cllr Nottage "was really concerned about the opinions of residents he would have listened to the 84 per cent of Christchurch electors who voted against the abolition of Christchurch and not voted against or abstained on every attempt by the borough to fight the takeover."

Cllr Nottage said he and his those members working with the shadow authority were simply "executing Parliamentary law".

He declined to comment directly on the accusation that he had "flouted council policy".

"I appreciate that councillors have to respond to their residents, we are the elected trustees of the area and have to come to our own decisions," he said.

"In this instance what we have to do is execute Parliamentary law, I don't see any point in trying to change that."