One large unitary council for the whole of Dorset replacing all nine existing councils
All of Dorset’s councils agree that even though this option would make financial savings in excess of the two- unitary options being consulted upon, creating one new large single unitary council for the whole of Dorset is not appropriate because:
- A single council for the area the size of Dorset would have less of a sense of identity than the two- unitary options, and could be less accountable to local residents. It is likely that the two-unitary options, by covering smaller geographical areas, would be able to serve their communities better.
- Such a wide variation of rural and urban areas would not be best served by a single large unitary council covering the whole of Dorset.
- If we change council structures, we would make sure that all households served by a new unitary council eventually pay the same — a process called council tax harmonisation. The issue of council tax harmonisation becomes more difficult across one large unitary council because of the significant difference between the current lowest and highest council tax levels.
- There is a one-off complexity and costs involved in combining services from all nine councils into one unitary council.
- Discussions with central Government (Department of Communities and Local Government) indicate that we would need to make an exceptional case for a unitary council with a population of more than 600,000. Based on 2014 projections the population of Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole in 2019 is 787,000.
For the reasons above, this option is not being included in the consultation.