THE new Dorset Council elected its leader and chairman at its first meeting following the local elections.
South Walks House in Dorchester was packed for the first meeting of the new unitary authority yesterday (Thursday).
Eighty-two newly-elected councillors, senior officers and a full public gallery filled the committee suite at South Walks House to debate the business of the new council and vote in its new leader and chairman.
Councillor Pauline Batstone, a Conservative member representing the Blackmore Vale, has taken up the position of chairman. This role was previously held for the Shadow Dorset Council by Hilary Cox, who was also chairman of the former Dorset County Council, but did not stand in the local elections
Councillor Batstone began the meeting by thanking Mrs Cox for her work and dedication over the past five years on both Dorset County Council and the Shadow Dorset Council.
She added: “The next year is vital for setting the tone of the new council and the manner in which it operates as a 21st century council.
“The aspirations and ambitions of this new council are for Dorset to be a place where people want to live, visit, learn and work and I am delighted to be able to play a key role in that.”
Councillor Spencer Flower, the Conservative representative for Verwood, was then voted in as leader of Dorset Council.
He thanked the chairman and members for putting their faith in him to be the first leader of Dorset Council.
Councillor Flower added: “This is a great honour and an immense privilege. As leader I want to promote a collaborative approach to the delivery of quality public services, whilst dealing with the known challenges of rising demand and severe financial pressures.
“We need to create a ‘can-do culture’ within the council that puts the interests of our communities first. A member led council, making a real and lasting difference in Dorset. This is a big job, but with the support of members in this chamber we really can make the difference our communities deserve.”
Following the election of the chairman and leader, Councillor Flower announced the members of the Dorset Council Cabinet, as follows:
- Leader / Governance, Performance and Communications – Cllr Spencer Flower
- Deputy Leader / Corporate Development and Change – Cllr Peter Wharf
- Finance, Commercial and Assets – Cllr Tony Ferrari
- Housing – Cllr Graham Carr-Jones
- Economic Growth and Skills – Cllr Gary Suttle
- Children, Education and Early Help – Cllr Andrew Parry
- Adult Social Care and Health – Cllr Laura Miller
- Planning – Cllr David Walsh
- Highways, Travel and Environment – Cllr Ray Bryan
- Customer, Community and Regulatory Services – Cllr Tony Alford
This means Lyme Regis and Charmouth’s representative on Dorset Council, Conservative Daryl Turner, has missed out on a Cabinet position. However, he was elected chairman of Overview & Scrutiny Committee for Place. The purpose of the committee is to fulfil the council’s statutory powers in relation to crime and disorder.
Councillor Turner previously was Cabinet member for the Natural & Built Environment on Dorset County Council and was Shadow Executive Member for Environment, Roads & Parks on the Shadow Dorset Council before the elections.