IT was good to read Brian Clements’ letter questioning possible loss of democracy in a new conurbation-wide council.

I certainly well remember our efforts, as respective Bournemouth and Poole council leaders during the 1990s, to remove some of the ingrained barriers and rivalries which prevented more efficient and effective joint working between the two boroughs.

I know we both also share a passion for community politics and engaging local communities to engage and influence what happens in their areas.

I believe that a single council for the conurbation can not only improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the present fragmented decision-making arrangements but, at the same time, present the opportunity to improve the democratic and civic engagement for residents.

First and foremost, council tax payers rightly want good services delivered on the basis of best value for money.

Secondly, living in the conurbation, few of us can be unaware of the major challenges faced in traffic congestion, attracting the right public and private investment in the economy, preserving our special but constantly threatened environment, providing decent affordable housing and providing a good level of health and social care.

With a population which has grown rapidly to over 400,000 people, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole together face the problems a major city and need to have the right local government to address these challenges.

These are the two key reasons, then, that I hope the plans for very overdue change will move ahead next year.

That said, like Brian, I will always vote for the councillor who believes in democratic and not autocratic government. A new council would have a real opportunity to introduce more democratic structures which recognise the real communities we live in - not the ancient administrative boundaries which exist only on maps and in town halls.

My local community is Southbourne, Brian's is Parkstone and those are just two of the communities which need to be properly engaged with.

No need for any great expense but, like many other well governed cities, the recognition of the benefits of involvement and recognising and responding to the special needs of individual localities.

In the same way, I believe that a new council will be better placed to preserve and celebrate the different histories and civic traditions of the three boroughs.

The alternative? Sadly, it seems to be about continuing cuts, continued inter-council arguments and duplication, all leading to worsening services and a lack of direction and answers to the conurbation's key problems.

The residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are generally fortunate to share a very special part of the planet - let's accept the world has changed and work together to make sure it stays that way.


Kirby Way, Bournemouth