QUESTIONS over who should be responsible for community safety at Christchurch council descended into a heated exchange between two councillors - including a remark regarding the former council leader.

The issue was raised at a recent meeting of the licensing committee.

Members received reports in relation to the Community Safety and Criminal Justice Board, Dorset Police and Crime Panel, and the Dorset Community Safety Partnership from Cllr Bernie Davis, chairman of the licensing committee.

Concerns were voiced over the committee’s responsibility for pan Dorset Community Safety.

Cllr Ray Nottage, former leader, said he felt the licensing committee was “impotent” in being able to set out authority policy on community safety.

He also questioned the relevance of the report to the Christchurch area.

“What I’m concerned about is the fact that here we have a committee that is impotent in actually making any decisions to make a difference, especially in respect of to the situation we have here

“If we are going to do a job, then give us some tools to make a difference.

“It’s been put into the too difficult file. It should be taken out quickly and put back into community where it should be exercised with due diligence and importance of the subject as to what are responsibilities are under section 17 (of the Crime and Disorder Act) and our responsibilities in the corporate plan.”

Cllr Davis said it had been several months since licensing committee took responsibility for community safety.

After Cllr Nottage said the reports were the first papers seen by the committee since the new set up was introduced, Cllr Davis said “you may be right there, but every time I go to an outside body as do the other officers”, at which point Cllr Nottage attempted to comment.

“Just a minute Ray, you’re not the leader now,” Cllr Davis said.

“Every time I go to an outside bodies meeting I put a report in as is request of all members who are members of the outside body. It’s not my fault they’re not penned into the papers much later.”

Following this exchange, members agreed responsibility for community safety matters should be dealt with by other committees. Representations from outside bodies will now be referred to scrutiny and policy overview.