DESPITE having less than a year to establish a new council covering a population of 400,000 people, its chief executive has said it is running “safe” and “well-managed” services.

Graham Farrant said Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council had succeeded in making sure it was ready to take over from the three old councils

But he said he did not expect the transition of services to be fully completed for about another 18 months.

The new council came into being on April 1, taking over the responsibilities of the three former borough councils and some of Dorset County Council.

Mr Farrant took charge of the process of managing the transition at the beginning of the year having been appointed to the £180,000-a-year top job.

The former HM Land Registry boss has previously praised the “good management” of the transition process and the collaboration between the three preceding councils.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said that although services had still yet to be fully merged, he hoped most of the public would have noticed little change when it took up the local government mantle for the area.

“I don’t think we will finish that work this year,” he said. “I think that’s what we will be doing for the next 18 months or so.

“But I think by that time we will have a level of service which is better than any of the other three [preceding] councils.”

Part of the business case for the merger of the three councils was to save as much as £108 million over the next six years, partly through the combination of services and the need for fewer staff.

The old councils’ three chief executives have already been made redundant at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, making way for Mr Farrant but most others have yet to be arranged.

In January the council’s corporate services director, Julian Osgathorpe, said the cost of redundancies would likely exceed the £1.5 million budget it had set aside for them.

Mr Farrant said he expected redundancies to mostly affect middle management and back office staff.

“I have always said we will need as many frontline workers at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council as we did across the three councils,” he said.

“We will need the same number of people cleaning the streets and social workers but efficiencies will mean we don’t need so many managers.”

The first elections for the new council will take place on May 2 when the 76 councillors will be appointed.