AN unlikely row could be brewing over two homes in Lytchett Matravers.

Charity trustees want the properties to be run by the parish council but the district council says that with a value of around £600,000 it should look after the homes.

There is a fear that if the district council continues to manage the properties they could be swallowed up by the new Dorset Council when it comes into being next April.

William Knight, from the trustees, said the cottages were bequeathed in 1979 by the Timpson family to house elderly, local, residents rent-free. The bequest says the homes should not be disposed of, or demolished.

At the time the parish council was not in a position to manage the properties so passed the job to Purbeck District Council which has collected the voluntary rent payments ever since. The Timpson Trust, mainly composed of parish councillors, has been playing its part in making decisions about the homes.

But now, with the imminent demise of the district council, the trustees are suggesting the properties transfer to the parish council.

Purbeck’s solicitor believes that if the legacy was paid off, for a sum of around £15,000, it could be argued that the bequest was discharged and the properties could then be rented out, rather than tenants paying a voluntary contribution. This, in turn, would allow tenants to claim housing benefits and the properties to be formally placed on the council’s property portfolio.

Cllr Mike Lovell, who chairs the Timpson Trust, says that many believe that the proposal would not honour the intentions of Mrs Timpson.

He said: “She used to chat to me when I was young and say she didn’t want them to become holiday homes.”

He said that if they were managed by a housing association he feared there might be a temptation to sell them on – their age making them expensive to maintain.

“I honestly believe what is being proposed would go against what the lady wanted. It has worked well for 40 years or so.”

He suggested another solution might be to transfer the properties to the Lytchett Matraver Community Land Trust.

Purbeck District Council Chief Executive Steve Makenzie says that the only way rent could be charged was to discharge the bequest by making a payment of £15,000.

Said Cllr Laura Miller: “It’s a moral decision we are being asked to make. We ought to uphold the bequest even though the circumstances have changed.

“I’m worried that if a social housing provider were to be involved they might just realise that they are in a high cost area and flog them.”

But Mr Mackenzie said a transfer to a housing provider was not being suggested.

The council’s policy group decided to defer a decision and meet with the Timpson Trust and parish council to see if a solution can be found.