THE chairman of the new Shadow Authority for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has admitted the walk-out from some of his colleagues was a “regrettable” decision.

Former leader of Christchurch Borough Council Ray Nottage was appointed to the role at Wednesday’s meeting.

Prior to his election, 13 of his fellow Christchurch councillors, who all oppose Local Government Reorganisation, left the meeting.

Councillor Nottage said he was surprised to see the exit take place.

“I think it is a great shame they have burnt their bridges in that way,” he said.

“It is never a good idea to do that in negotiations, I think it was quite regrettable and an emotional reaction to a situation.

“I have tried to hold it as open as I can. Once the judicial review process is understood properly we can hopefully talk.

“I’m looking forward to a sensible approach so we can work together. My message to those councillors is the potential involvement is still there. The good will of the other councils - Bournemouth and Poole - is still there and their contributions would be greatly welcomed.”

The Shadow Authority chairman said he had held committee positions in the hope Christchurch members would return to the table.

He added: “It does weaken the situation, but we can create a position where a special meeting could be called if they come back. Otherwise we will have to fill the roles with councillors from the other councils.”

Deputy leader of Borough of Poole, Ann Stribley, was appointed as vice-chairman of the shadow authority.

The leader of the Shadow Authority will be filled by the chairman of the Shadow Executive Committee, which will be decided at is first meeting next Friday.

Cllr Nottage said his role as authority chairman was apolitical, but gave him some “degree of influence” to ensure residents are listened to.

“While the strategic executive deals with the implementation of parliamentary law, I will be promoting and enhancing the process going forward,” he said.

“For those who are concerned about the merger, being in this position enables me to have some degree of influence to ensure residents are listened to.”

Councillor Flagg said Wednesday evening’s walk-out took place to avoid potentially prejudicing Christchurch Borough Council’s judicial review against the merger.

However, it is understood members have also been left disgruntled by the decision to appoint Cllr Nottage as chairman.

Christchurch councillor David Jones said: “Many Christchurch people will see the appointment of Cllr Nottage as a direct insult to the 84 per cent of Christchurch people who voted no in the referendum, with Cllr Nottage also being one of the prime movers in this process of allowing Christchurch to be taken over by Greater Bournemouth.”

n The first meeting of the Shadow Dorset Council, which involves East Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, North Dorset District Council and Dorset County Council, met in Dorchester last night.

Dorset County Council chairman Cllr Hilary Cox was confirmed chairman of the shadow council.