Judge dismisses legal challenge

A legal challenge against the Secretary of State’s decision to implement the Future Dorset proposal has been dismissed, following a judicial review.  The eight councils unopposed to the plan gave the following reaction:

“We are delighted but unsurprised by today’s judgement.

“A huge amount of work has already been undertaken, and we are making excellent progress towards creating the two new councils.  Christchurch Borough councillors and their officers have always been welcome at the various meetings that have taken place, working to form the two new councils.

“We respect the choice of Christchurch Borough Council to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision, through a judicial review on a procedural point of law. In doing so, we note that the validity of the case for creating two new councils was not the basis for this judicial review challenge.

“Christchurch Borough Council has spent a very significant amount of council tax payers’ money in pursuing this legal action. The High Court has rejected that challenge and we hope that all Christchurch Borough Councillors will now accept that judgement, and fully take part in planning for and making decisions about the new council.

“We are optimistic this matter is now behind us, and we can look forward to working together to create the best new local councils we can, to protect public services as much as possible, and to secure future growth and prosperity for our areas.”

Issued on behalf of Bournemouth BC, Dorset CC, Borough of Poole, East Dorset DC, North Dorset DC, Purbeck DC, West Dorset DC and Weymouth & Portland BC

Historic day, as Parliamentary process to create new councils concludes

Legislation now passed in both Houses of Parliament means that Dorset residents will be served by two brand new unitary councils from April 2019 – Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council, and Dorset Council.  The county’s nine current councils will cease to exist on 31st March 2019.

The Leaders of the eight councils who have consented to local government reform have wholeheartedly welcomed the news.

Cllr John Beesley for Bournemouth, Cllr Rebecca Knox for Dorset, Cllr Janet Walton for Poole, Cllr Spencer Flower for East Dorset, Cllr Gary Suttle for Purbeck, Cllr Graham Carr-Jones for North Dorset, Cllr Anthony Alford for West Dorset and Cllr Jeff Cant for Weymouth & Portland said:

“This is an historic day for local government in our county, and we are exceptionally proud to have reached this significant milestone.

“We would like to thank to all councillors, officers, business organisations, MPs, town & parish councils, public sector partners, the voluntary sector and of course the residents of Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth, for clearly recognising the benefits that this change will bring, and for supporting us through what has been a long and complex process.

“People recognised that Dorset is made up of a distinct and established conurbation and a defined county area, each with its own differing needs and priorities.  They, like us, saw the logic of streamlined local government, of having councils with less overheads that are better able to protect local services in the future and that can spend a greater proportion of available funds on frontline provision like road repairs, children’s services, adult social care, waste & recycling, parks, and libraries.

“Both new councils will serve around 400,000 residents, putting them within the twenty largest local authorities in the country.  It is the immense opportunity that this strength of position gives us at a national level that is the most exciting benefit of all.  These two new councils will have a stronger, co-ordinated voice when bidding for Government funding and investment for things like road improvements, housing, schools and economic regeneration; the things that benefit an area for all those living within it.”

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Draft legislation is now online

The draft legislation that will both dissolve the existing councils and create two new unitary authorities is now available to view online:

The Dorset (Structural Changes) (Modification of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007) Regulations 2018; and


These set out the duties of the Shadow Authority, including what must legally be achieved during the ‘shadow period’ – from the passing of statute to 1st April 2019 when the two new councils come into being.

Legal process to create two new councils begins

The parliamentary process to dissolve Dorset’s existing nine councils and create two brand new unitary authorities got underway, on time, today. (Thursday 29th March 2018).

Known as a Structural Change Order (SCO), the legal document that will eventually be approved through both Houses of Parliament has now been officially submitted by the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Cllr Janet Walton, Chair of the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Joint Committee said, “It is excellent news that the Government has presented the SCO today.  This is a significant step in the creation of two new councils for Dorset and marks the first stage in a formal process of scrutiny and debate through the House of Commons and the Lords, before we expect the Order to be in force in early June.”  She continued, “Once the SCO is approved and until the new council exists, a Shadow Authority will meet, made up of all 125 members from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils, as well as five members from Dorset County Council.  We expect the first meeting of the Shadow Authority to meet some time in June, within 14 days of the approval of the SCO.” Read more

Sajid Javid’s full statement approving Future Dorset

“My Rt Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

“On 7 November I told the House that I was minded to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, the locally-led proposal I had received for improving local government in Dorset, and I invited representations before I took my final decision.

“Having carefully considered all the representations I have received and all the relevant information available to me, I am today announcing that I have decided to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, that locally-led proposal to replace the existing nine councils across Dorset – two small unitary councils of Bournemouth and Poole and the two tier structure of Dorset County Council and the district councils of Christchurch, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, and Weymouth & Portland by two new councils.

“These new councils are a single unitary council for the areas of Bournemouth, Poole, and that part of the county of Dorset currently comprising the Borough of Christchurch, and a single unitary council for the rest of the current county area.

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Future Dorset Council Leaders give reaction to Secretary of State’s decision

Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council, Cllr John Beesley: “I am extremely pleased that the Secretary of State has acknowledged the strength of the case we collectively made for a new structure of local government in Dorset, and approved the plans submitted to him. One council serving the established urban area of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will help to protect essential frontline services, will serve all residents far better than the structures we have today, and will be able to positively & strongly represent the area at a national and strategic level, for the benefit of residents and businesses.

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Final go-ahead given for two new Dorset councils

In an historic moment for public services in Dorset, the government has given the green light to plans to create two new unitary councils in Dorset.

Local Government Minister, Sajid Javid, announced today that he will progress his initial ‘minded to’ decision to create two new unitary authorities in the county, replacing the existing nine councils.

Each authority will deliver all local government services in their respective areas. One will cover Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and the other will serve the rest of the county. Subject to legislation, the new councils will come into existence in April 2019.

This change will help protect local services, generate further economic growth, reduce costs, and provide more efficient, brand new councils structured around communities.

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Sajid Javid’s reply to Bournemouth’s representations

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid has responded to the Leader of Bournemouth Council in a letter dated 16 January 2018, regarding representations concerning Future Dorset proposals.

In his letter, Mr. Javid stated: “I will carefully consider your representations before I take my final decision on the proposal.”

View a copy of the letter:
16 01 18 Letter from Sajid Javid

Representations to the Secretary of State

All six councils behind the Future Dorset proposal have now made representations to the Secretary of State, reconfirming their support for the proposal, setting out again the strength of the case made and the invalidity of any alternatives, and urging the Secretary of State to make a final decision to approve implementation as soon as possible.

Here are links to each Council’s representation:
Borough of Poole Council
Bournemouth Borough Council
Dorset County Council
North Dorset District Council
West Dorset District Council
Weymouth & Portland Borough Council

Sajid Javid speech praises Future Dorset

Speaking at the County Councils Network earlier this month, Secretary of State Rt Hon Sajid Javid recognised the widespread support for Future Dorset, and reflected on why changes in local government are needed to make it fit better with people’s lives in the 21st century: “I announced that I’m minded to support the plan for […]