BOURNEMOUTH council is taking legal action against its neighbour Poole, claiming it is owed over £1.5million in care home fees.

It has lodged a claim with the High Court seeking a total of £1,515,903 plus interest of £121,272.00 from the Borough of Poole – and wants additional interest of £332.25 for every day the debt remains unpaid.

The money represents the amount Bournemouth council has spent providing residential care for a total of eight people who, it has recently been decided, were Poole residents.

The issue of which local authority should take total responsibility for these service users was referred to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt last November.

He ruled that all eight people – one of whom died in September 2011 – had previously acquired residency in Poole.

The Borough of Poole agreed to start funding the care of the seven surviving people from the date of Mr Hunt’s ruling but has refused to refund the money Bournemouth has spent on their care in previous years.

Bournemouth council sent a request for payment plus interest to the Borough of Poole in January but said it resorted to legal action after receiving no response.

However, Poole council has confirmed it will be defending the claim, which it says is “premature and unnecessary”.

Tim Martin, head of legal and democratic services, Borough of Poole, said: “Throughout this case, the priority for Borough of Poole has been ensuring minimal disruption, and the continued care provision, to those residents affected.

“We believe these proceedings are unnecessary and have been brought prematurely.

“We were keen to meet with Bournemouth Borough Council to resolve the outstanding financial issues without adding further legal costs but this offer has not been taken up. Court proceedings have been issued and we will be defending the claim that has been made and hope that we can resolve this matter quickly.”

Andy Sharp, service director for Adult Social Care, said: “Bournemouth Borough Council has been in discussion with Poole Borough Council for some years in relation to eight customers who had been funded by Bournemouth but are resident within the Poole area.

“Following a determination by the Secretary of State that these customers are ordinarily resident in Poole, we are seeking to recover the costs associated with the delivery of support to these customers and we have issued proceedings to this effect.”