HARMONISING the council tax and services across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will be one of the major priorities for the new Unity Alliance administration on BCP, says its first leader.

Cllr Vikki Slade was elected to the post on Tuesday night and began her first day as the political head of the £700m authority yesterday.

She met with the chief executive, Graham Farrant, first thing to discuss the alliance’s policies and priorities.

Cllr Slade told the Echo: “Aligning the tax and services is a demonstration that we are organisation, representing all the residents across the conurbation. Otherwise we are just three towns.

“The other thing we have to do is bring the people with us. They have to believe and understand they are involved from top to bottom and we will ensure they are. This has to work for everyone.”

She accepted it would be a challenge to keep such a diverse group of alliance partners together but added: “As I said in my speech, we have to keep our eyes on the prize. And the prize is a better place to live for all of us.”

Announcing her cabinet on Tuesday, Cllr Slade revealed a new position, environment and climate change.

Alliance for Local Living councillor Dr Felicity Rice will hold the position and the new alliance has promised to take more steps to make the work of the council more environmentally-friendly.

Cllr Slade said environmental issues would be one of the main priorities of the alliance and said that, being the 12th-biggest local authority in the country, meant it could set “an example” to others.

She promised one of the most diverse cabinets with it having a 50-50 gender split as well as a mix of experienced and new councillors from wards across the conurbation.

The BCP Conservative group, led by Cllr Bob Lawton goes will form the opposition and privately some senior Tories say they will simply wait for the alliance to fall apart.

Cllr Phil Broadhead said: “This new council is a great opportunity and it is no time for an experiment. We are all guinea pigs now and you can quote me on that.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lawton said he wanted to work with the new alliance to ensure the wishes of everyone living in the conurbation were heard. “We are not a divisive party,” he said. “And we will work to help the new coalition as much as we can to achieve the best for our residents. We are open and transparent and will do whatever we can to make sure that the council moves forward as effectively as possible.”

As the largest individual group on the council, Conservative councillors will have almost half (42) of all of the 90 committee seats available, followed by the Liberal Democrats with 15 of the total of 90 available.

It is understood that the new administration could carry out a review of the finances of council-owned firms including Bournemouth Development Company and other major financial projects and schemes.

A review of the Code of Conduct and ethical issues relating to members’ interests is also likely to be put in process.