‘WE will fight on’. That was the message to residents from councillors opposed to a merger of Christchurch with Bournemouth and Poole councils.

Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s decision to approve local government reorganisation in Dorset was discussed at a recent meeting of the Christchurch Citizens’ Association.

Chairman Sue Bungey said: “This is a very dark time for Christchurch. Residents have been betrayed. It’s a really sad time for us. But I don’t think it’s over.”

She told members the association was writing to former Christchurch MP Diana Maddock who is now a member of the House of Lords.

“We’re writing to her in the hope that she will support us when this comes to Parliament. Anything we can do to save us from this predator breathing down our neck,” she said.

This is in addition to the support of Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope, who has been a staunch critic of the merger plan.

“With support from our MP Chris Chope, we have a case to fight on,” Cllr Peter Hall said.

Cllr Colin Bungey said: “It was a very sobering moment when I heard the result, but we’re not giving up. The order has to be laid before parliament. There could be quite a lot of opposition to this going through. There’s also the legal challenge.”

However, as reported in the Daily Echo recently, a legal professional has advised members of Christchurch council that the merger decision is not challengeable.

A report written ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the full council on Tuesday states: “Unfortunately, the opinion concludes that there is “absolutely no arguable error of law, and thus any arguable cause of action.””

Also discussed at the citizens’ association meeting was the possibility of a new town council for Christchurch following its merger with Bournemouth and Poole.

“It will be a very important thing to have locally should the decision be implemented,” Cllr Bungey said.

A town council, if adopted, would give councillors elected to it a say over a small range of local issues, and it would be a statutory consultee for planning applications. 

It could also allow the borough to retain its mayor without taking up an alternative option such as making the mayoralty a charter trustee.