Following Parliament's approval to replace six rural Dorset councils with a new 'Dorset Council', the new 'Shadow Dorset Council' has started work, and a review of its proposed new ward boundaries is also taking place.
The proposal for new councils was made in early 2017 by six Dorset councils: Bournemouth BC, Poole BC, Dorset CC, North Dorset DC, West Dorset DC and Weymouth & Portland BC. Subsequently, two more councils - East Dorset DC and Purbeck DC - also decided to support the proposal. Christchurch BC has only recently, very reluctantly, decided to support the proposals.
The proposal was that there would be one council for urban Dorset and one council for rural Dorset both serving around 4,000 residents:
The new urban Dorset unitary authority would consist of Bournemouth BC, Christchurch BC and Poole BC in a new unitary authority, called the 'Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Unitary Authority'.
The new rural Dorset unitary authority would then consist of the remainder of the county of Dorset (namely Dorset CC, East Dorset DC, North Dorset DC, Purbeck DC, West Dorset DC and Weymouth & Portland BC) in a new unitary authority called the "Dorset Council Unitary Authority". In summary, it would carry out all the functions of the previous two-tier councils in Dorset County (except for the existing Christchurch BC area.)
It was estimated that this simplification of organisational structures would save costs of £108m over six years.
The 'Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government' announced he agreed to the proposal in February 2018 and this then led to Parliament's approval on Wednesday 23rd May 2018.
Shadow Dorset Council
One result of Parliament's approval of the structural change orders was that it legally created a new 'Shadow Dorset Council'. This will now plan and implement the creation of the new 'Dorset Council'. The Shadow Dorset Council consists of all the 174 councillors, some double hatted, for the existing six county/borough/district councils that exist now in the future 'Dorset Council' area.
The 'Shadow Dorset Council' has appointed a chairman, deputy chairman, committees and interim statuary officers. The leader and deputy leader of the council were subsequently decided at the first meeting of its Executive Committee.
The 'Shadow Dorset Council' will complete its work and cease to exist at the end of 31st March 2019.
The 'Dorset Council' will start work on the 1st April 2019.
New Dorset Councillors
Recommendations for new councillor wards for the new Dorset Council have already been drafted, and this is now subject to a review by the 'Local Government Boundary Commission for England'. For further details see:
The 'Local Government Boundary Commission for England' will make their final announcement on the new wards in October 2018. The elections of new councillors for the new council will be carried out in May 2019.