Following Parliament's approval to replace the current nine Dorset councils with two new Dorset councils, the new shadow Dorset councils have started work, and a consultation on the proposed new ward boundaries is 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.
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'. (Christchurch is currently part of the county of Dorset.)
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". 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. Having achieved this, the Secretary of State is now ensuring some consequential orders concerning detailed matters are also approved by Parliament.
Shadow Dorset Council & Dorset Council UA
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 new 'Dorset Council Unitary Authority'. 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 UA's area.
The Shadow Dorset Council met for the first time at the beginning of June 2018 in Dorchester and 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 the Executive Committee in the middle of June 2018.
The Dorset Council UA will start work on the 1st April 2019.
Recommendations for new councillor wards for the new council have already been drafted, and this is now subject to a review by the 'Local Government Boundary Commission for England'. Currently they are carrying out a consultation on the draft recommendations from 4th July to the 27th August 2018. For further details see:
The 'Local Government Boundary Commission for England' will then 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.
Comment from Hugo Mieville, Parliamentary Spokesman
Hugo Mieville, the 'Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for North Dorset' said:
It will now be down to the 'Dorset Council Shadow Authority' to make sure that this transformation from the county/borough/district councils into the new 'Dorset Council Unitary Authority' is carried out efficiently, in time for its first elections next May. It is imperative that the voters in the new Dorset Council area can have confidence in the new Dorset Council UA right from the start.