THE chief executive of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has said he will work “closely” with parish and town councils.

Graham Farrant admitted “surprise” at the decision to found Christchurch town and Highcliffe and Walkford neighbourhood councils but said he respected their choice.

Councillors in Christchurch agreed to establish the new parish councils last year as a result of fears that the historical aspects of the borough council could be lost in the merger with Bournemouth and Poole.

Along with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, the two parish councils came into being at the beginning of the month.

Funded by an additional precept charged of people living in the areas they cover, the two new councils will take on some of the lesser responsibilities of local government.

As well as overseeing the management of some public spaces in their area, they will also be a consultee on planning applications within their parishes.

Just under £10-a-year extra will be added to council tax bills of people living in the two parishes this year with this rising to more than £27 in 2020.

Mr Farrant said he understood why the new parish councils had been established.

“They [parish councils] are fine in the right environment,” he said. “I respect their right to want them.

“I was a bit surprised they have gone ahead with setting up new ones without waiting to see what happens when Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council is up and running.

“But they have clearly identified a local need for them.

“We will now have to make sure we work with them to reflect their areas’ heritage.”

Elections for Christchurch Town Council and one ward of Highcliffe and Walkford Neighbourhood Council will take place on May 2 – the same time as the voting for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

The rest of the wards for the neighbourhood council had fewer candidates nominated than seats available meaning they will be elected automatically.