Latest Public Sector News


Dorset councils reignite ambition for reorganisation plans after election

Dorset council leaders have today vowed to push ahead with plans for the Future Dorset local government reorganisation proposals.

Statements from six councils – Dorset County, Bournemouth Borough, Borough of Poole, North Dorset District, West Dorset District and Weymouth & Portland Borough – said that the authorities will aim to push forward with the proposals that could see nine councils in Dorset reduced to two unitary authorities.

Councils began debating the proposals at the start of 2017, and by February decided to push forward after gaining the backing of six councils in the area, although three, including Christchurch council, were resistant to the plan.

In April, councillors in Christchurch decided to postpone a referendum on local government reorganisation until after the snap election on 8 June, although today’s news may mean that plans could go forward regardless of any referendum in 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.”  

“We are keen to continue the discussions we had with secretary of state Sajid Javid before the general election,” said Cllr John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth Council. “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.”

Borough of Poole leader Cllr Janet Walton added that there was a £82m funding gap across the county over the next eight years, and that the Future Dorset proposals would allow public services, like adult social care and children’s services, to be protected.

“No change is not viable if we are to protect the most vulnerable in society in the future,” she said. “It is every council’s responsibility to acknowledge this and do what is right.”

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, North Dorset District Council leader, added: “The Future Dorset plan will bring £108m 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.” 

West Dorset District leader Cllr Anthony Alford continued that 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,” he stated.

And Cllr Jeff Cant, leader of Weymouth & Portland Borough, concluded that 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,” said Cllr Cant.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 


Cllr Steven Lugg   15/06/2017 at 12:46

Speaking as an East Dorset Councillor. £50m of the 80 crystallises by 2019, so should not be in the business case. Bournemouth and Poole are already Unitaries and of course are free to do what they wish. Other Leaders trying to airbrush the views of residents in East Dorset and Christchurch is frankly offensive given the farce that was the consultation process. Having spoken to literally hundreds of people through campaigning for the last year, I know currently that the vast majority do not want a Unitary currently. Personally, I am in favour of an open honest debate with all the facts, but a single Unitary, which I would support, was taken off the table as politically undeliverable. Where would the Ivory Tower be, Bournemouth or Dorchester? One might think that this GE might have shown that we need to engage better, and more honestly with the public. As part of the Christchurch constituency at the GE, with the highest percentage Conservative majority in the country, I am unsure that the Government will want to displease any more of its own voters for a while? This deal should be dead in the water, with parties told to go away and if they want a Unitary/Unitaries, to run the process properly. Three districts for, three against, case not proven. Let's be honest?

Cllr Lesley Dedman   17/06/2017 at 15:39

A not unexpected initiative from some Dorset council leaders, clinging to their great idea. Cllr Beesley claims 'support for the proposal from public, partners and business community'. But the Secretary of State must be aware that only half of the District Councils (which would disappear) voted for the proposal. Half voted against, including Christchurch, with the highest Conservative vote in GE17. I hope the Secretary of State, unlike Cllr Beesley and the other Leaders, will not dismiss Christchurch as unimportant.

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >