William Eichler 15 June 2017

Dorset councils reaffirm commitment to unitary plans

Dorset councils reaffirm commitment to unitary plans image

Dorset council leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to a radical local government overhaul that could save the area over £100m.

Six of Dorset’s nine existing councils back proposals to replace the county’s councils with two unitary authorities. These are Dorset County, Bournemouth, North Dorset, Poole, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland councils.

The plans, entitled Future Dorset, project savings of £108m in the first six years, and have the support of 75% of the six councils’ voting members.

Future Dorset also notes 73% of residents support the idea of change and 65% of residents support the proposed geographical composition.

Dorset LEP is behind the plan, as is 89% of businesses operating in the county.

‘The Future Dorset proposal is about being aspirational and ambitious for all of Dorset,’ said Cllr Rebecca Knox, leader of Dorset County Council.

‘It’s a chance in a lifetime to make Dorset a more successful, healthy, vibrant and prosperous county, for everyone who lives here.’

She also noted three of the councils that support the proposals — Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole — spend the greatest percentage of the county’s local government money and represent every resident of the county.

Cllr John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth Borough Council, said they were keen to continue the discussions they were having with secretary of state Sajid Javid before the General Election.

Borough of Poole leader Cllr Janet Walton said change was essential to overcome the area’s funding problems.

‘There is an £82m funding gap across the county over the next eight years,’ she said.

‘This means public services in Dorset – adult social care and children’s services in particular – are facing the biggest funding challenge ever known.

‘No change is not a viable option if we are to protect the most vulnerable in society in the future.’

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