RELAUNCHING talks over the transfer of a recreation ground from BCP Council to a town council is the “next step” to delivering on a long-standing agreement to hand over the asset.
Christchurch Town Council maintains its desire to take ownership of the recreation ground and pavilion in Barrack Road.
As reported, the pavilion has been blighted by anti-social behaviour. It is currently is boarded up and covered in graffiti.
Frustrated town councillors have accused BCP Council leaders of allowing the facility to fall into “rack and ruin” before transferring it.
BCP Council cabinet member Cllr Mohan Iyengar said the local authority had “immediate steps to go forward” on the transfer “despite the history of this matter”.
The portfolio holder for tourism and active health said: “The next step is to restart 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 Council was created.
“A pre-requisite 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.
He added: “I think that discussions can now be productive to resolve this for local residents and in the interests of all taxpayers."
Christchurch Town Council community committee chairman and mayor elect Cllr Avril Coulton said a failure to invest in the recreation ground “simply isn’t good enough”.
She said Christchurch residents deserved better.
On the current state of the pavilion, Cllr Iyengar said: “The pavilion and recreation ground have indeed suffered from vandalism and anti-social behaviour – though it’s fair to say this matter has run throughout both administrations in BCP and during the council that preceded it.
“After a recent spate of worsened vandalism, officers took the decision to board up the site and remove all asbestos in the interests of health and safety.”
Christchurch Town Council is also waiting for eight other sites, such as skateparks and play areas, to be transferred from BCP Council.