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Dorset council merger strengthened as authority withdraws opposition

Purbeck District Council is to withdraw its opposition to the reorganisation of Dorset’s councils.

This week the council has agreed to write to Sajid Javid, communities and local government secretary, to inform him of its decision.

The council previously voted not to support the submission of the case to form two unitary councils, which Javid said that he was “minded to approve” in November.

At a meeting this month councillors raised a number of concerns, particularly about local representation.

But after “much debate” 19 Purbeck members agreed with the recommendation to withdraw opposition, with only five members voting against. One member abstained.

Although Purbeck District Council did not previously support the proposal, it recently became a member of a Dorset Area joint committee, comprising Dorset councils, enabling it to participate in discussions about working together on the delivery of services.

Cllr Gary Suttle, leader of Purbeck District Council, said: “Residents deserve the best representation and this will only be achieved if we are part of the process.

“It is important we join this process so that the voice of our residents can be heard and we can do the very best for Purbeck.”

Cllr Suttle has recently raised a number of concerns with the chairman of the Dorset Joint Committee, Cllr Rebecca Knox, regarding the role played by town and parish councils, harmonisation of council tax, safeguarding existing local plans, management of local development, and safeguarding local decision making. Cllr Knox has reportedly given assurances that these are being addressed.

Javid is accepting representations on his preliminary decision until 8 January 2018, after which he will make his final decision.

If he reaffirms his decision to support the formation of two unitary councils, they will be formed on 1 April 2019.

Top image c. Fonrimso

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