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Council opposed to Dorset authority plans local referendum

Christchurch Borough Council will hold a local referendum on joining the proposed Dorset unitary authority.

The authority has long been opposed to the merger and is launching the postal vote as a direct response to communities secretary Sajid Javid confirming that plans were being discussed.

Proposals will see nine councils replaced by two unitary authorities, which the organisation Future Dorset says will mean fewer overheads, yield savings of over £100m, and create opportunities for greater spending capacity on frontline services.

Cllr David Flagg, leader of Christchurch BC, explained the referendum: “Before making any representations to the secretary of state about the possible reorganisation of local government in Dorset councillors want to allow Christchurch residents to have their say.

“It is important we take into account their wishes as we are elected to represent them.”

New authorities are to be divided between Rural Dorset and Urban Dorset. The rural council will replace Dorset County, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland councils, while Urban Dorset will replace Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

East Dorset District Council has joined Christchurch in opposing the plans although the other authorities involved are widely supportive of the plans.

Those in favour of the new proposals say they will be able to more efficiently use services and close a potential £82m funding gap across the county over the next eight years.

Christchurch’s referendum had previously been planned for earlier in the year but was postponed because of the general election.

Top image: Acceleratorhams

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