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.”
Borough of Poole Leader Cllr Janet Walton, continued, “There is an £82m funding gap across the county over the next eight years. This means public services in Dorset – adult social care and children’s services in particular – are facing the biggest funding challenge ever known. No change is not viable if we are to protect the most vulnerable in society in the future. It is every council’s responsibility to acknowledge this and do what is right.”
Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, North Dorset District Council Leader said, “The Future Dorset plan will bring £108million of savings in the first six years through economies of scale and reduced costs. These savings could turn the tide and make money available to empty the bins, fix the roads, protect parks and open spaces and run libraries – things that will be under very real threat if there is no change.” He continued, “There will be significantly fewer councillors than the current total of 330 borough, district, unitary and county councillors – this alone would save £1.1million a year in costs.”
West Dorset District Council Leader Cllr Anthony Alford said, “This proposal could deliver a prize that is far greater than any council can achieve in its current form. Two councils representing Dorset could mean greater access to government money for investment in, for example, our roads, digital connectivity and housing. While we will continue to promote and enhance the rural environment and the attractiveness of our market towns, that will be good for the quality of life and the job prospects for those who live in Dorset.”
Cllr Jeff Cant, Leader of Weymouth & Portland Borough Council commented: “I share and commend people’s sense of pride in their areas. This is about how services are delivered, not how individual areas or ancient towns are seen. The history and culture of areas is understandably cherished, and everyone involved would actively seek to preserve and protect these elements for the future.”
The full Future Dorset proposal can be found at www.futuredorset.co.uk