Councillors in Dorset will consider a report in January on proposals to replace the county’s existing nine councils with two new unitary authorities by 2019.
In a joint statement (on 15 December), leaders of the nine Dorset Councils, said:
“We all recognise the mood for change strongly expressed by Dorset residents through the public consultation.
“The consultation results show there has been a powerful public response that very clearly supports change to protect services. The evidence of two independent reports is equally compelling and tells us that change is clearly in Dorset’s best interests.
“We firmly believe we should listen to the views of our residents. It is clear to us that the public are convinced that two new unitary councils would offer an opportunity to radically transform public services to meet the needs and ambitions of residents and businesses across the county. Change would also strengthen Dorset’s voice at a national level and, crucially, achieve the significant financial savings we must make to protect frontline services in the future.
“Of the options put to our residents through the consultation, option 2b is the front runner in the public’s mind. However, no decisions have been made. Each council must now examine and debate all the evidence – the financial assessment, the case for change and the results of public consultation – to determine whether they support change.”
The full report on the options and evidence for local government reorganisation in Dorset will be published on Friday 23 December 2016.
At an extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday 13 December, councillors for Christchurch Borough Council expressed the view that no change in local government structures is in the best interests and most closely reflects the wishes of their local residents.
Cllr Ray Nottage, Leader of the Council, Christchurch Borough Council, said: “I took forward the views expressed by Christchurch members to yesterday’s meeting, as well as feeding back the other resolutions from Full Council.
“I was interested to hear the comments from the other eight Leaders across Dorset which I will be reporting back to Christchurch members. As with all councils in Dorset we will now take the recommendation through the democratic process to further review all the evidence presented as we consider what is best for our residents’ long-term future.”