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BCP handover pledge after claims Christchurch assets going to 'rack and ruin'

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CLAIMS that BCP Council has let Christchurch recreation facilities go to “rack and ruin” prompted a pledge to fulfil a handover promise.

Christchurch town councillors accused BCP of neglecting the town’s sites, in particular Barrack Road pavilion, which has been boarded up for the past few weeks following vandalism.

BCP Council members are now seeking discussions with their counterparts in Christchurch to hand over the property’s running.

BCP Council has promised to transfer the ownership of various sites to the town council
BCP Council has promised to transfer the ownership of various sites to the town council

Mayor Cllr Avril Coulton, who is also chair of the town council’s community committee and mayor elect for the new civic year, said: “This simply isn’t good enough and Christchurch deserves better.

“It seems that whilst BCP works out what to do with honouring legacy promises made to the town council in passing across outstanding assets, its approach is to not invest in Christchurch and let a well-loved recreation ground pavilion go to rack and ruin.”

The town council owns and manages some sites – such as Christchurch quay, Mudeford recreation ground and cricket pitch, and three allotments. In 2019 BCP Council promised to transfer the ownership of others, including Barrack Road recreation ground.

But former mayor Cllr Sue Bungey said there had been “three long years of inaction from BCP Council”, and now it was “questionable if the Barrack Road pavilion is salvageable”.

Cllr Bungey went on: “It seems as if BCP assumes by not investing in Christchurch sites, the town council will get round to it upon transfer and sort out its mess.

Cllr Sue Bungey
Cllr Sue Bungey

“It’s sad to see that nothing has been done. The legal disposal and transfer of these sites should never take this long.”

Responding, Cllr Mohan Iyengar, BCP Council’s cabinet member for tourism and active health, said the pavilion and recreation ground had been boarded up over the past few months in the wake of anti-social behaviour incidents and to allow council contractors to remove asbestos from the site.

“The next step is to re-start discussion with Christchurch Town Council for the transfer of the asset to them, which we believe the town council is seeking and which references an agreement-in-principle at the time BCP was created,” he said.

“A prerequisite is that we formalise within BCP a community asset transfer policy which will bring the right engagement and transparency to this and similar transactions.

“The policy is in draft and due for cabinet shortly – prior to which it will be published and open for comment.

“Despite the history of this matter, we have immediate steps to go forward. I think that discussions can now be productive to resolve this for local residents and in the interests of all taxpayers.”

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