THE future of the mayoralties of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will be decided over the coming year.

The Joint Committee set up to prepare for the merging of the three borough councils has designated a group to look into how the ceremonial posts might be retained after April next year, when the new conurbation unitary council is installed.

The potential loss of the mayoralty has been one of the bones of contention in Christchurch which led to the council rejecting the reorganisation (LGR) last year.

The current mayors are coming to the ends of their terms, and are due to be replaced in April.

The Echo asked the designated mayor-elects of the three boroughs about the future of the role.

Bournemouth’s mayor-elect Councillor Derek Borthwick said: “I was just thinking last night that I will be the last Mayor of Bournemouth under its present name.

"The idea is there will still be a ceremonial mayor for each town, until at some point in the future I imagine people will accept there is just one conurbation and that will be it.

“It is a role of honour, you are there to represent the town and should do your years before taking it on.”

Cllr Borthwick said there were problems still to be settled. Whether one or all of the ceremonial mayors would chair meetings of the new unitary council. And how Christchurch would continue to fill the role with only 10 councillors to choose from.

Cllr Sean Gabriel, the mayor-elect in Poole, said he was confident the mayoralties would be retained, perhaps with the status of charitable trusts.

“It is yet to be decided but the will is definitely there, definitely in Poole and I imagine in the other towns as well,” he said. “Poole’s history goes back 900 years, it is important to keep it going.

“With LGR in place some people are getting confused, the towns are going to stay as they are, it is how council services are managed that will change, and hopefully improve.”

However Christchurch’s mayor-elect Cllr Lesley Dedman was less confident the post would be retained.

"I asked this question at the Joint Committee and was told it was yet to be decided," she said.

"Our own mayoralty in Christchurch has a history stretching back 900 years. One thing on which all in Christchurch agree is that our mayoralty, an intrinsic part of our historic borough, must be preserved, and we will find a way to do so.

"Plans seem to be afoot from the Joint Committee to form a town council in Christchurch, but not in Poole or Bournemouth, ostensibly to preserve our mayoralty. This begs the question, if and how are Poole and Bournemouth going to keep their own mayoralty?"