Fight against Dorset merger ends as Christchurch council accepts defeat

Christchurch Borough Council has agreed not to take its legal fight to the Court of Appeal following the refusal of its Judicial Review application, with leader Cllr David Flagg apologising for the authority’s unsuccessful battle.

The dropping of the appeal brings to an end Christchurch’s long-running legal dispute against plans to merge with Poole and Bournemouth district councils, which the High Court favoured last week.

Dorset’s nine councils will now be scrapped in favour of two unitary authorities in an aim to save the county £108m over six years.

While the other eight authorities backed the plan, Christchurch argued that the majority of its residents were not in favour of the merge.

In response to the council’s refused leave to appeal, Flagg said: “In light of the decision we feel that the best way for us to proceed is to focus our work on getting the best for our residents as we move towards local government reorganisation on 1 April 2019.

“Whilst we are of course extremely disappointed with the decision of the judge the council has fought to represent the wishes of our residents throughout this process.”

Christchurch formally opposed the proposals earlier this year, claiming that Sajid Javid acted beyond his powers by approving the decision when he was communities secretary. But this fierce opposition to the merger was branded “absurd” by the new communities secretary James Brokenshire in May.

“Having pursued every avenue available to us we must now accept that the council will be abolished next year. We apologise that we were not successful in keeping Christchurch independent and thank all the residents who supported us in our attempts,” added Flagg.

The second Dorset council will be made up of the current West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland, Purbeck, Dorset County Council, East Dorset, and North Dorset authorities.

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Image credit: Geograph


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