A BID to make Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole a low tax freeport is being prepared.

BCP Council is working with organisations, including airport and port officials, to put together a submission ahead of the government’s February deadline.

Its leader, councillor Drew Mellor, said the designation would bring “long-term benefits” and that he had met chancellor Rishi Sunak to put forward a case for the conurbation.

The government has said it will create “at least ten” freeports across the country as part of its work encourage trade following the country’s departure from the EU.

Next week the council’s cabinet will be asked to approve £50,000 to fund the preparation of a bid for one covering Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Discussions have been held between council, Dorset local enterprise partnership, Bournemouth Airport and Poole Port figures in recent weeks.

Cllr Mellor said a successful bid could bring “long-term benefits to the area”.

“This council is absolutely committed to championing our local economy as we both deal with the pandemic and plan for future prosperity,” he said.

"As we go through the EU transition process we must make sure that our area is ready to capitalise on the worldwide trading opportunities that it presents and that is why I want us to be at the front of the queue when government is looking at their first ten free ports.

“I made it a priority to start to explore this at pace and have been delighted with the responses from both Bournemouth Airport, the Port of Poole and the LEP.”

He said approval of a £50,000 fund would allow “a compelling submission” to be put forward ahead of the February 10 deadline.

Jim Stewart, Poole Harbour Commissioners chief executive, said the freeport prospect was “exciting” and would “provide a significant boost to our local economy”

A Bournemouth Airport and Aviation Business Park spokesman said freeport designation would give the region an opportunity to “leverage our connectivity and post-Brexit cargo and logistics”.

The government has said freeports will have “a wide package of tax reliefs and simplified customs procedures” to encourage their use as major trade centres.

Our Freeports will be international centres for trade and investment, powering regeneration, job creation and entrepreneurship,” communities secretary Robert Jenrick said last month.

The first freeports are expected to come into being next year.