The likelihood of Dorset’s nine councils being replaced by two new unitary authorities is a step closer, after Dorset County Council voted for change.
At the Full Council meeting on 26 January 2017, 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).
Leader of the Council, Cllr Robert Gould said: “This is absolutely the right decision for Dorset County Council to have made. The final decision lies with the Secretary of State, but Dorset County Councillors have made an historic decision today which will help protect the frontline services and is in the best interests of all our residents.”
All councils in Dorset are considering the report during January. A proposal can only be submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid MP requesting the change is approved by Parliament during 2017/18, when all the decisions are in. 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.