THE leader of BCP Council has dismissed a suggestion that her not being on the panel overseeing the multi-million transforming cities fund work downplays its importance.

Last week, the council’s scrutiny board recommended that councillor Vikki Slade – or her deputy – replace the cabinet member for environment in managing the project

But this was dismissed by the cabinet on Wednesday with Cllr Slade said all decisions were made collectively and the arrangement “absolutely did not undo” the importance of the scheme.

In March, the government awarded £79 million through the transforming cities fun for a series of improvements to bus and cycle connections between Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and its surrounding towns.

Early parts of the project have already started with a requirement that it all be completed within three years.

In order to monitor and manage the work, a governance board was set up, this includes two BCP Council councillors and two Dorset Council councillors.

All, except one of the Dorset representatives, are cabinet members on their respective authorities although none are either council leaders or deputy leaders.

When considering the work at its meeting last week, BCP Council’s scrutiny board said this should be changed to “better reflect the importance of the programme”.

Its chairman, councillor Phil Broadhead, said: “This is an awful lot of money from government for what can and should be transformative scheme across Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole.

“The reason for the recommendation from the board was that when you have that amount of money – and their maybe other rounds – you need to demonstrate leadership.”

It said that Cllr Slade should replace the cabinet member for environment, councillor Felicity Rice, on the board.

But the suggestion was dismissed at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

“I can understand the sentiment behind the recommendation and the importance of this is absolutely not undone,” Cllr Slade said. “Any changes would be coming back to cabinet anyway, we make collective decisions.”

She added that it might look like “bullying” had the leader of BCP Council taken up a position while the leader of Dorset Council had not.

The first work on the project, on the Bournemouth to Ferndown “cycle freeway” is due to begin in August.

Later this year, work on the links between Poole and Merley and Poole and Ferndown is due to begin.

This will be followed next year by the start of the north Poole to north Bournemouth, Lansdowne to Christchurch and Wareham to Poole routes.