16,000+ Dorset residents have their say in Reshaping Your Councils consultation

Thousands of residents from across Dorset have taken part in a wide-ranging consultation on proposals for the future of local government in the county.

A household survey was undertaken, based on a representative sample of the Dorset population. Questionnaires were sent to 20,000 addresses selected at random from all addresses in each of Dorset’s local authority areas. 4,258 residents responded. The response numbers by each council area are as follows:

Council Area Number 
Poole 781
Bournemouth 670
East Dorset 554
West Dorset 508
Christchurch 459
Purbeck 453
North Dorset 439
Weymouth and Portland 391
Unknown 3
Total: 4,258

The household survey responses will be statistically weighted to take account of the size of the population in each local authority area and different response rates for different types of households. This ensures that the household survey results are statistically reliable and representative of the whole population in each area.

The open consultation questionnaire gave all Dorset residents and other stakeholders the chance to have their say; and a total of 12,536 responses were received.

Council Area Number
Poole 2,625
Bournemouth 2,048
East Dorset 1,433
West Dorset 1,414
Christchurch 1,409
Weymouth and Portland 694
Purbeck 656
North Dorset 632
Outside of Dorset 61
Unknown/not stated 1,564
Total 12,536

Sixteen facilitated workshops were also undertaken throughout the consultation period, with residents, town and parish councils, businesses and the voluntary sector. In addition, further separate responses and written representations were received from hundreds of stakeholders including businesses, voluntary sector groups, public sector partners, MPs, service user groups, town and parish councils, residents’ groups and other organisations.

Andrew Flockhart, Chief Executive of Poole Borough Council, said on behalf of all councils:

“I am delighted that so many thousands of residents took the time to read the detailed information provided, consider their response and tell us what they think about the proposals to replace Dorset’s nine existing councils with two new unitary authorities.”

He continued, “Opinion Research Services (ORS) will now analyse the data, present the findings and produce a full and detailed report, which will be available online at www.reshapingyourcouncils.uk on 5 December, along with the detailed Case for Change that is being prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.”

The ORS report will include overall results for the whole of Dorset, compare findings from the household survey and open consultation questionnaire, feature breakdowns of results from each council area and present the feedback received from stakeholders via all the different consultation activities.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ case for change will assess each option for its ability to meet the government’s ‘statutory tests’ of:

  • improving value for money and efficiency
  • delivering significant cost savings, and show that the cost of change can be recovered over a fixed period
  • improving services for local residents
  • providing stronger and more accountable leadership
  • being sustainable in the medium–long term.

Notes about the household survey

Where a population is large, as in the case of Dorset (around 750,000 residents), it is impractical to obtain the views of all residents. In these circumstances it is normal to carry out a survey to estimate what the result would be if the views of the entire population had been asked.

Where a survey is based on a sample that has been selected at random and there is a chance that anyone in the population could be chosen to take part, survey estimates can be certified as statistically accurate to within a specific tolerance.

For example, we can be 95% confident that views based on responses from a random sample of 384 residents would reflect the views of the entire population to within ±5 percentage points. On this basis, 19 times in 20 the survey estimate will be no more than 5 percentage points away from the result had the question been asked of everyone in the population.

The household survey used a stratified random sampling approach and all addresses in each local authority area had an equal chance of selection.  The sample was designed to provide sufficient responses for analysis of views in each of the local authority areas.

The overall sample of 4,258 responses will provide survey estimates that will be accurate to around ±2 percentage points for the entire Dorset population. The survey estimates are sufficiently accurate to identify with statistical confidence the option with most support in each local authority area.  The accuracy of each estimate depends on the split in opinion for each question, the number of responses received and the extent of statistical weighting needed to compensate for different response rates for different types of households.

The specific accuracy of survey estimates for key questions will be reported in the ORS report of findings.