TWO unitary authorities have officially taken control of local government in Dorset today (Monday), following the merging of nine local authorities.
Work to replace the former district, borough and county councils has been underway since May 2018, when parliament agreed to the creation of two new unitary authorities – Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.
The merge is expected to save £108million over the next six years with 450 jobs to be cut.
The new Dorset Council brings together the former East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, Weymouth & Portland, and West Dorset authorities.
Dorset Council chief executive Matt Prosser said: “It’s been a challenge to disband six councils and create one unitary authority in the short amount of time available, but I’m delighted with our progress and want to thank all colleagues and elected councillors for their hard work and commitment.
“This is the right move for Dorset, enabling us to protect frontline services for residents by reducing back office duplication and management overheads. Like many councils across the country, all Dorset councils have faced significant budget pressures over recent years.
“By moving from six councils to one we can ensure our resources are used where they are needed most, to provide the day-to-day services Dorset residents rely on.
“It has not been an easy process and we’re having to make some difficult decisions, but everyone has really pulled together to make this happen. We hope that residents will see little or no change to services on day one.
“Bin days will be the same, we’ll continue to maintain roads, our libraries and parks will be open as usual and we’ll still be caring for our most vulnerable people.”
The council’s first budget – for financial year 2019-20 – ensures all existing council services continue unchanged and provides an increase in funding to a number of priority areas.
Mr Posser continued: “Our first budget protects and invests in frontline services such as education, social care, waste collection and tackling homelessness. This wouldn’t have been possible without the reorganisation of our councils.
“We know that some residents are concerned that moving to a single unitary council might mean their local community receives less attention and representation. I’d like to reassure people that we’re aware of their concerns and addressing this will be a top priority for the new councillors.
“We’re really excited for day one and the opportunities the new council will bring for Dorset.”
After 1 April, Dorset Council will prepare for the local elections on May 2 when residents will be able to vote for the 82 councillors who will represent the new council area.
Find out more about Dorset Council or register to vote in the elections, visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk