Christchurch council members consider involvement in City Deal bid

2:00pm Tuesday 15th January 2013

By Katie Clark

FEARS about closer working with Bournemouth council were voiced as Christchurch members considered their prospective involvement in the City Deal bid.

The possibility of the future union with the neighbouring unitary authority was discussed at a meeting of Christchurch’s resources committee, with some councillors citing the history between the two authorities as a reason to exercise caution.

The government has invited Bournemouth to make a bid for City Deal status, which is intended to benefit not just the main town but the wider area.

And in order to make the bid conurbation-based, the council has invited Poole, Christchurch and East Dorset to take part in discussions and support the bid.

Ideas under discussion include the creation of an Enterprise Zone for Bournemouth Airport and Poole Port and the pooling of transport funding to invest in key infrastructure, which could include roads around the airport.

But despite the potential economic benefits to the area, some Christchurch members had reservations.

Cllr Colin Bungey said: “What I want to know is how tightly does this tie us into Bournemouth?

“I have reservations about the prosperity of Bournemouth and some of the disasters that have happened in their borough.

“The reef and Imax and the money that has been spent – I would not like this borough to get tied into a situation where we lose our sovereignty if we became too close to Bournemouth.

“This council fought a successful battle with great help from the residents to stay independent a few years ago when Bournemouth were awarded unitary status.

“I am happy to go forward for a deal that will encourage growth and prospects in the borough but with caution.”

Cllr John Lofts also asked whether the airport could be in its own enterprise zone separate from Poole port to ensure the council’s aim and objectives for the airport were protected.

Dave Barnes, strategic director at the council partnership, said: “This does not tie us into anything politically or financially.

“They are not really interested in Christchurch in terms of any takeover.

“We are being treated as an equal partner in this. They respect what we can bring to the table.”

Councillors voted to delegate authority to the leader of the council to negotiate the authority’s further involvement.

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