A POOLE councillor has complained to the standards board about the "authoritarian and dictatorial approach" of leader Janet Walton.

Cllr Mark Howell, leader of Poole People Party, said the senior Conservative had failed to treat him with respect by "refusing" to answer his questions about the name of the new council after local government reorganisation, and instead sending answers to the Daily Echo a week later.

Cllr Walton, who is also leader of the pre-merger shadow authority executive committee and thought to be in pole position to lead the new council, said the complaint was false and politically-motivated.

The questions concerned the naming of the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, due to be formed in April next year.

Cllr Howell said: "Cllr Walton’s failure to respond to questions submitted to her by a councillor following proper procedure is an indication of the authoritarian and dictatorial approach that citizens and councillors from other parties can expect if the Conservatives secure a majority in the merged council in the elections in May."

He said he had submitted three questions to Cllr Walton on August 29 and received "a dismissive reply, failing to answer the questions and instead referring to some unreferenced past communications". He said he had sent two further requests but did not receive a response.

Cllr Howell next saw the leader quoted in an Echo story published on Sunday, in which she said the name of the "new BCP Council" would be decided by its members after elections in May next year.

He says that by "refusing to respond" to his "legitimate request" Cllr Walton breached the provisions of Part 5 of the shadow authority's constitution, viz. that 'a shadow councillor must treat others with respect' and 'a shadow councillor must not behave in a way which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or the shadow authority into disrepute'.

On Monday, Cllr Walton was confident the complaint would not be upheld.

She said her first email response to Cllr Howell had contained "in essence" exactly what she told the Echo.

"I do not believe I have treated him in any way disrespectfully," she said.

"Cllr Howell has never been in support of local government reorganisation and I consider that his reporting me to the standards board is a political move.

"He has already been given all this information in meetings we have had with officers anyway."