PLANS have been put forward to celebrate the history of Christchurch after the council merger takes place in the coming weeks.

Rev Canon Charles Stewart announced the proposals for a “different kind” of service to take place in the borough.

He hopes to hold the thanksgiving event in the Priory at 11.30am on Sunday, May 12, 10 days after the first Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council elections have taken place.

The service would coincide with the final day of Christchurch Food Festival, which Rev Stewart said seemed a fitting time.

Discussing the idea at Christchurch full council meeting, he said: “I want to propose this year we hold a unique service in the Priory because the circumstances are one off.

“What I am proposing is to hold a service of thanksgiving in the Priory for the borough of Christchurch which would mark the formal end of its existence and would celebrate, as much as we can in the limited time, much of what has been achieved in 700 years or more.

“I believe it is only fitting given Christchurch’s story and I know I have only been part of it for nearly four years but even in that time one learns to appreciate what has been here. I believe it is fitting that we do one.”

Rev Stewart has liaised with Mayor of Christchurch Lesley Dedman and Christchurch Borough Council leader David Flagg about the service.

However, he was keen to stress the event would not involve any politics, with the Priory handling the organisation.

“The proposal is coming from the Priory and not from the old council or new one,” said Rev Stewart. “It has been our commitment and my personal commitment to be serving all the people of the town, whatever their politics and their opinion.

“It will aim to be celebratory and thoughtful but not political. I am proposing we hold this service after the elections have taken place.

“My concern would be that if it were held before the elections on May 2 it could be interpreted, no matter how much one would seek to avoid it, as being favouring this or that group or candidate, not happening.”

Cllr Dedman added: “I think it will be an event which very much celebrates the borough, with the end of the council and formation of the new town council.”