A NEW town council is set to be established in Christchurch following the abolition of the existing borough in April.

Councillors are being recommended to approve plans to set up two new parish councils – one representing the town and another for Highcliffe and Walkford following a review of the borough’s arrangements.

A report to Christchurch council’s community committee says that the changes would “bring about improved community engagement, better local democracy and efficient, more effective and convenient delivery of local services”.

Following the failure of its legal challenge against plans to merge Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils, Christchurch Borough Council will cease to exist from April 1 with a new authority taking over services for the whole conurbation.

Concerns had been raised that the borough, having only 10 councillors, would not have an effective voice on the new council leading to a loss of its identity.

As a result, a “community governance review” was carried out by the council with recommendations agreed by a Task and Finish Group of four councillors and put forward to the committee for a final decision.

They include the formation of Christchurch Town Council and Highcliffe and Walkford Neighbourhood Council.

The proposals have been backed by Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils with its chief executive, Hilary Trevorah, saying that parish councils can “increase control over local matters”.

“Parish councils are a vital link with local communities, providing a greater understanding of their residents’ views and concerns,” she said.

“This association, together with the National Association of Local Councils and with the encouragement of central government, very much encourages the establishment of new parish and town councils as the tier of local government that is closest to communities.

“Existing town councils in Dorset are very proud guardians of their historical, cultural and mayoral heritage as well as constantly striving to represent the ever-changing needs of their residents.

“Parish councils increase the potential for local control over local matters.

“They are an accountable voice for their communities, striving to improve quality of life for local people.

“As principal authority services become more centralised to achieve savings, the role of a parish council becomes crucial.”

On Wednesday, Christchurch council’s community committee will decide whether to start the legal process of setting up the new councils with the Task and Finish Group continuing to meet to consider the transfer of any assets and services and council tax precept requirements.