Councillors back change to local government structure in Dorset

Councillors in Poole have voted to support proposals to change local government structures in Dorset.

At a meeting of Full Council held on Tuesday 24 January, councillors agreed to make a submission to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government requesting that Dorset’s nine councils should be replaced by two new unitary councils.

Based upon the weight of public opinion, financial data and evidence of the likely benefits of change to the county as a whole, councillors agreed that the two new unitary councils should comprise of the following existing local authority areas:

Unitary A: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (including delivering the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in Christchurch).

Unitary B: East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland (including the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in this area). 

Cllr Janet Walton, Leader of the Council, Borough of Poole, said: “This is a unique opportunity for Poole to be given a strong voice on a national platform, achieve sustainable services, unlock opportunities to fulfil the ambitions and aspirations for our town, while protecting our history and heritage for future generations.

“There is a compelling case for changing local government structures in Dorset. The evidence from the public consultation showed there was clear support from residents, businesses and other stakeholders for moving to two councils. There was also a clear public preference for one council serving the conurbation of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch and with the other serving the rest of Dorset. I firmly believe this option represents the best opportunity to reduce costs, improve public services and enhance the quality of life and prospects of our local residents.”

All nine councils in Dorset are considering the report during January.  Only once each council has reached a decision will councils be able to submit a proposal to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid MP requesting the change is approved by Parliament during 2017/18. After that, Implementation Executives would be appointed, to determine the structure, budget and service delivery models of each new council. The new councils would 'go live' in April 2019.

The dates of each council meeting are as follows:

Tuesday 24 January

  • Borough of Poole  

Thursday 26 January

  • Dorset County Council
  • West Dorset District Council
  • Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

Friday 27 January

  • North Dorset District Council  

Monday 30 January

  • East Dorset District Council  

Tuesday 31 January

  • Bournemouth Borough Council
  • Christchurch Borough Council
  • Purbeck District Council

View the council agenda and full report

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