Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Dorset going unitary 'will help protect the frontline services' >>> 'Economies of scale now seem to require mergers or abolition of districts.'

The District Council is raising taxes whilst proposing spending millions on relocation:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: 'fiddling while Rome burns'

This is all whilst the notion of abolishing district councils is gaining traction:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and local government reorganisation
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: of devolution and rising costs
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: What happens to a brand new £10m District Council HQ when councils merge?

Although it remains very confusing as to what would emerge in Devon:
Futures Forum: Exeter and a 'super council' >>> "Any new proposals for local government must be fully consulted on and that whatever structure emerges must be transparent and accountable to local people."
Futures Forum: Devolution deals looking even more doubtful...

Meanwhile, next door is going unitary:
Futures Forum: Changes to Dorset’s democracy and council structure >>> and the implications for Devon

And it looks at though it's going to happen imminently:
Dorset council unitary authority proposals move closer - BBC News

This is the comment from East Devon Watch:


14 FEB 2017

Owl says: how long can Devon resist the change to one (or two) unitary councils in a county, entirely cutting out the district tier? Economies of scale now seem to require mergers or abolition of districts.

Will we be part of “Greater Exeter” or “Devon Unitary” by the next election – or both!

And where will headquarters be? Honiton isn’t exactly the centre of the Greater Exeter or Devon unitary universes!

Dorset to have two unitary councils if government agrees | East Devon Watch

Here is the full piece from the Herald:

Dorset councils vote for change

13 February 2017

The likelihood of Dorset’s nine councils being replaced by two new unitary authorities is a step closer, after five of them voted for change, including West Dorset District Council.

Based on the weight of public opinion, financial data and evidence of the likely benefits of change to the county as a whole, councillors have agreed that the two new unitary councils should comprise of the following existing local authority areas:

• Unitary A: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

• Unitary B: East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland - including the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in this area. If approved, the new council would ‘go live’ in April 2019.

Leader of Dorset County Council Robert Gould said: “This is absolutely the right decision for Dorset County Council to have made. The final decision lies with the Secretary of State, but Dorset county councillors have made an historic decision which will help protect the frontline services and is in the best interests of all our residents.”

Dorset councils vote for change - News - Midweek Herald

And here's the piece from Pulmann's Weekly:

Councils back next steps towards two Dorset unitary authorities

By Lottie Welch -February 8, 2017

ALL nine councils in Dorset have now considered a report and accompanying package of evidence setting out a proposal to replace the county’s nine councils with two new unitary authorities.

Six councils – Bournemouth, Dorset County, North Dorset, Poole, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland – have backed a change to local government structures in Dorset.

Purbeck District Council, East Dorset District Council and Christchurch Borough Council voted against the proposals.

The proposal is to create two new unitary councils based on the existing local authority areas: Unitary A – Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Unitary B – East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland.

Matt Prosser, chairman of the Dorset chief executives group, said: “We are so passionate about the Dorset of the future.

“We are collectively committed to doing the right thing for our residents and for the whole county – to protect services, to raise Dorset’s profile, to grow the economy, and to generate prosperity and an enhanced lifestyle for all those who live here. All the evidence shows that this proposal will do just that and more, and we will use the mandate given to us by six of the councils wisely to effect positive change.

“We now have a mandate from our councils and we have the backing of the public and other stakeholders. That is clear from the consultation results. Now we have a duty to respond to that mandate and secure a sustainable and even brighter future for Dorset. We are resolved in our commitment to a county that is healthy, prosperous, vibrant and inclusive for generations to come.

“We now need to determine the next steps in achieving this opportunity of a lifetime.”

Dorset council leaders were due to meet today (February 8th) where the councils supporting change will agree the formal proposal to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, asking him to use the powers available and replace Dorset’s nine councils with two new unitary councils.

If the Secretary of State agrees and the change is approved by parliament during 2017/18, decision-making bodies would be appointed to determine the structure, budget and service delivery models of each new council.

These would be made up of councillors from all existing local authorities. The new councils would ‘go live’ in April 2019, with elections in May 2019.

Public consultation results show a clear backing for change to local government structures in Dorset in both the representative household survey and the open residents questionnaire, with the proposed boundaries also being the most favoured.

Deliberative and qualitative research found that the business community, voluntary sectors, residents’ groups and town and parish councils also primarily mirrored these results.

A detailed study undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers cites a compelling case for local government reorganisation in Dorset. It found evidence that replacing nine councils with two would benefit the economy, improve services, be good for people’s health and wellbeing, help education and skills in Dorset and improve the county’s infrastructure, housing and environment.

Councils back next steps towards two Dorset unitary authorities

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