Preparing to create two new councils

Two Joint Committees have been set up, based around the two new council areas.  Every Council in Dorset is represented on the Joint Committees, which will take all the key decisions needed locally to create the new councils.  Joint Committee meetings are held in public, and minutes and agendas are published online at the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Joint Committee website, and the Dorset Area Joint Committee website.

Business and other partners’ reactions to the Secretary of State’s announcement

Reaction to Secretary of State announcement:

“A consistent approach to infrastructure and housing planning will make the county more attractive to businesses wanting to relocate. Businesses also clearly see the operating efficiencies that can be achieved with a streamlined approach to the structure and number of local authorities in the county. The DCCI believes that two councils for Dorset will help to facilitate this and welcomes the Secretary of State’s announcement today.” Ian Girling, Chief Executive, Dorset Chamber of Commerce & Industry

“With our focus on current and future jobs needs, we equip students to get the jobs they want in growing industries. Working with just two councils to facilitate this will make it easier to match skills to our regional industries.” Diane Grannell, Chief Executive, Bournemouth and Poole College of FE

“The Trust Board fully supports the creation of two new unitary councils in Dorset. We have concluded that this proposal is the best way forward. We look forward to working with the new Council structure in Dorset both during the transition and in the new structures going forward, as part of the Dorset Sustainability and Transformation Programme (STP)”. Debbie Fleming, Chief Executive, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

“Dorset’s vibrant county economy has a wide range of sectors, from manufacturing, to production, to service industries. Businesses want strong representation for their area and consistent policies – two councils for Dorset will make this happen.” Anthony Woodhouse, Hall & Woodhouse

“The number of separate local authorities in Dorset at present makes partnership working complex – the unification of services such as housing and social care would improve people’s health and well-being. Therefore, the CCG welcomes the government announcement today.” Tim Goodson, Chief Officer, Dorset CCG

“This proposal will help improve things further by helping to plan the housing needs of the type of people who will live and work in Dorset – young families and first time buyers who want to get on the housing ladder instead of the rental sector.” Mandy Williams, Director of Operational Resilience & Risk, Operations and Delivery, Nationwide Building Society

Council leaders welcome Secretary of State’s support for local government reform in Dorset

Statement attributable jointly to:

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Dorset County
Cllr John Beesley, Bournemouth
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, North Dorset
Cllr Janet Walton, Poole
Cllr Anthony Alford, West Dorset
Cllr Jeff Cant, Weymouth & Portland

“We have bold ambitions for our county, and strongly believe our plan will deliver a bright and successful future for all those who live here.

“We presented overwhelmingly strong evidence to the Secretary of State – evidence of public support, of backing by Dorset’s business community and voluntary sector, and of immense benefits for the whole county.  Our case for change showed that our plans will drive forward the economic prosperity of the county, helping people achieve a better quality of life.

“Two councils will be more efficient, save money and protect public services.  They can begin to secure a sustainable future for the public services that people value and need, including and in particular, essential social care for our growing older population.

“Replacing Dorset’s nine councils with two new ones – structured around the established urban and rural geography of the county – will bring a strong and prosperous future Dorset, with two councils better able to work together in the best interests of Dorset’s residents and the long-term success of the county.

“These two councils will have greater influence nationally, better able to secure vital funding for things such as roads and housing.  This will make the area more attractive to businesses, help them to grow and thrive, meaning enhanced job prospects and better lives for local people.

“We are committed to working together and will take these discussions forward through the established Joint Committees, in which all nine councils are actively participating.

“There is now much for those Joint Committees to do.  They will be responsible for all necessary plans to ensure that both new councils are created by and operational in April 2019.

“The scale of the task cannot be underestimated.  But this immense effort we know will be far outweighed by the scale of the prize that awaits the people of Dorset – a county with a bright future that is healthier, more prosperous, vibrant and inclusive.”

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Leader, Dorset County Council, said:
“We are delighted that at last we have clarity about the way forward for local government in Dorset. Our residents, our staff those in public service, and so many others depend on either receiving services or delivering them, needed this direction, so it is welcome. There is lots to do, but we are ready to meet the challenge, remaining committed to supporting our communities. This now gives us the opportunity to explore new ways to deliver what the residents of Dorset will need in the future.”

Cllr Janet Walton, Leader, Borough of Poole, said:
“Following strong public and partner support for this plan, expectations of delivery are now running high within our communities. 74% of Poole residents backed replacing nine councils with two, with a significant majority supporting a new council for the conurbation area of Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch. I would encourage all those Poole businesses, partners and residents who recognise the benefits that this change will bring to once again make their views known to the Secretary of State during his consultation period.”

Cllr John Beesley, Leader, Bournemouth Borough Council added: “This proposal is ambitious, aspirational, and achievable. For the urban unitary area, it will result in savings that mean the new council can begin to ensure services, including adult social care and other vital frontline services valued by the public, are sustainable for the residents of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, long into the future. The new council will serve what geographically is already a single conurbation, albeit one made up of very distinct and characterful towns and neighbourhoods, that we value and will of course preserve.”

Cllr Anthony Alford, Leader, West Dorset District Council, said: “This change promises deliver a prize that is far greater than any council can achieve in its current form. The opportunities to really transform how public services are delivered in the county is striking, and the benefits this would have for local people equally evident.”

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Leader, North Dorset District Council, commented, “Dorset’s councils have a strong reputation for working together for the good of our residents. The Joint Committees formalise that arrangement further, progressing preparations for the two new councils, including the transfer of assets and functions from the old to the new organisations, in readiness for the formal Parliamentary process.”

Cllr Jeff Cant, Leader, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, said, “We are committed to ensuring the unique history and culture of each Dorset town and village is preserved and protected in Future Dorset, proposing to actively facilitate devolution to local communities wherever this is desired.”


Dorset’s Council Leaders reaffirm commitment to Future Dorset

The Leaders of Dorset County, Bournemouth, North Dorset, Poole, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland Councils have reconfirmed their commitment to plans to modernise local government in Dorset, protecting frontline services and boosting the area.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Leader of Dorset County Council, said, “The Future Dorset proposal is about being aspirational and ambitious for all of Dorset.  It’s a chance in a lifetime to make Dorset a more successful, healthy, vibrant and prosperous county, for everyone who lives here.”  She continued, “The councils that spend the greatest percentage of the county’s local government money and represent every resident of the county – Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole – have democratically voted to back this proposal and continue to do so.”

Cllr John Beesley, Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council, added, “We are keen to continue the discussions we had with Secretary of State Sajid Javid before the General Election.  We have made it clear to him that we are committed to the vision of a bright and sustainable future for both the urban and county areas of Dorset, and we know we have support for the proposal from the public, partners and business community. The Dorset LEP, Clinical Commissioning Group, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire& Rescue Service, Dorset Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dorset Chief Constable, and the Universities and FE college have all given this plan their backing.”

Read more

No announcement expected until after General Election

No announcement is due from the Government now due until after 8th June.  With Parliamentary recess for the summer taking place from 20th July to 5th September, it is possible there will be no announcement until the autumn.  However, we continue to plan for an April 2019 go-live date for both new councils.

General Election likely to impact Future Dorset announcement timing

The timing of the Government’s announcement on Future Dorset is likely to be impacted by the General Election proposed for June 8th. The period known as ‘purdah’, which restricts policy announcements before an election, commences on 8th May.  We already know that there will be no announcement before 4th May, due to purdah for the Mayoral Elections, which are taking place across Britain.

Elections mean no announcement before 8th May

Central Government ‘purdah’ for Mayoral elections (which take place on 4th May in some areas of the country) gets underway tomorrow – Good Friday.  We therefore do not expect a Government announcement during this period.

Last week, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, visited Dorset to promote the local government elections, taking place on 4th May for the county council.  His visit attracted some local media coverage. Mr Javid confirmed to us and to local news reporters that he “continues to consider the proposal” put forward by our six councils but “no decision has yet been made”.

The go-live date for the new authorities remains April 2019, with full local elections in May 2019.

In the meantime, keep up to date with all the news and views from #FutureDorset on Twitter @FutureDorset.

Why is it time to make changes?

Why now?

The government has significantly reduced the funding it gives to local authorities to provide services. In response there is a proposal to create two unitary councils for Dorset; one for the urban area and another for the rest of Dorset. Councils need to be the right size to be sustainable and more aligned to the way people live their lives and their sense of place.

Key partners back Future Dorset

What are people saying about Future Dorset?

Key partners from across the county are backing the proposal


This excerpt is page 10 from the proposal brochure. You can read the full proposal online. Scroll to the bottom of the linked page to see the document in a browseable reader.

A compelling case for change