CHRISTCHURCH MP Sir Christopher Chope has called for the new unitary council to offer as much devolution as possible to the three towns.

The veteran Conservative politician made the appeal as discussions continue between local parties and groups in attempts to form a administration to control Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP).

The Tories hold the most councillors on the local authority with 36 seats, but they are three short of a majority.

This month's election delivered 15 Liberal Democrats councillors, 11 independents, including eight from the Christchurch Independents group, seven Poole People, three Labour, two Green, one Alliance for Local Living and one UKIP.

This week the Conservative BCP group released a statement of pledges they would keep if they formed an administration next week.

This included changes to council tax harmonisation and planning boards.

Sir Christopher told the Daily Echo he hoped the leader of the Conservative BCP group, Cllr Bob Lawton, would change the approach from the previous regime in Bournemouth.

"My hope would be whatever comes out of this is to have as much devolution to the constituent parts of the new authority," said Sir Christopher.

"Why can't Christchurch councillors deal with Christchurch planning issues and so on?

"The Government sold this unitary idea as devolution but it has turned out to be centralisation and that is why there was a strong reaction to it.

"Now there is a new leader of the Conservative group in Bournemouth, hopefully, they are more malleable and supportive of bringing people together than dividing them – that would be good.

"The more devolution that can be given to Christchurch and Poole the better. That is really what could and should be the way forward."

As reported by the Daily Echo, a row broke out last week between Sir Christopher and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns after the later accused his party colleague of campaigning with independents in the lead up to polling day.

This claim was denied by Sir Christopher, who said it was wrong for Mr Burns to scapegoat him for the poor local council election results in the conurbation.