COUNCIL leaders are being forced to act quickly to protect assets in Christchurch from being automatically transferred to the new unitary authority for the conurbation.

Moves to ensure sites and resources, such as the Mayor's Parlour in High Street, do not pass over to the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole authority will go right down to the wire against the implementation of local government reorganisation in Dorset.

Christchurch Borough Council is in the process of deciding if new parish councils should be created, but discussions cannot take place on which assets can be switched before the ground-level authorities are in place.

A published Community Governance Review timetable, which sets out how new local councils can be established, says the creation of any new parish authorities will be on May 2, 2019 – after the new unitary has taken over.

However, council officers have clarified there will be time for Christchurch to transfer assets down to parishes.

Richard Jones, legal and democratic services manager at Christchurch and East Dorset Councils said: “If the borough council decides to establish any new parish councils, they will become effective from April 1, 2019 with the new Councillors elected in May 2019. Any transfer of assets will therefore be completed before the Borough Council ceases to exist.”

Mr Jones said a report on the results of the Community Governance Review will go to community committee on Wednesday, August 22, with recommendations then going to full council on Tuesday, September 4.

East Dorset councillors met this week to decide which assets should be given to parishes across the district.

Mayor of Christchurch Lesley Dedman, who has led a task and finish group working on the Community Governance Review, said the neighbouring authority was able to proceed with the transfer as the authorities were already in place.

"The responsibility and ownership of assets is a vital part of what will happen when the parish councils are created.

"Officers and councillors have worked tirelessly to get this through and in place so we can discuss assets. Talks cannot be held until we have the parishes in place."