Dorset Council – Restructuring

Councils provide various services such as social care, housing, planning and protecting the vulnerable. They are also responsible for waste collection, road maintenance and libraries.

Due to funding cuts and the need to make savings across the county, Dorset’s councils are considering reducing the number of councils in the county from nine to two from 2019. It is important that the views of all those who will be effected by changes are heard, before a decision on whether to restructure councils is made. 

Public consultation will be from 30th August-25th October 2016.

Councils that will be affected:

  • Bournemouth Borough Council
  • Borough of Poole
  • Dorset County Council
  • Christchurch Borough Council
  • East Dorset District Council
  • North Dorset District Council
  • Purbeck District Council
  • West Dorset District Council
  • Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

Dorset’s councils need to save an additional £82.3 million between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2025. The proposal to reduce the number of councils to two would:

  • Protect frontline services
  • Reduce costs
  • Focus on people and areas
  • Make councils accountable to local people
  • Stimulate jobs and promote prosperity

 

Four options are being considered for possible restructuring of the councils

Option 1 – Retain all nine councils

Option 2a – Large Conurbation

Option 2b – Medium Conurbation

Option 2c – Small Conurbation

 

Option 1 – Retain all nine councils

Features

  • Deficit of £30.4 million across the county, and Dorset councils would have to find a further £30 million between 2019 and 2025.
  • Rise in council tax bills in the medium-term.
  • Many council services will be cut from 2019 onwards – councils would focus on primary services (i.e. adult and child social care).
  • Continue paying for senior management and keep 330 councillors across Dorset. Retain the current council structures.

 

Option 2a – Creation of two Unitary Councils (A and B)

Unitary Council A – Large Conurbation consisting of Bournemouth, Christchurch, East Dorset and Poole, plus the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in this area. 

Unitary Council B – Small Dorset consisting of North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland, plus the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in this area. 

Features

  • Would provide a total contribution of £39.6 million towards the funding gap in 2024/25 (providing £62.9 million for the Large Conurbation’s annual budget, but a £23.3 million deficit in the Small Dorset annual budget).
  • A large unitary council would be financially viable, although there may be challenges to the Small Dorset unitary council.
  • Population of Small Dorset is lower than council guidelines for an efficiently-functioning unitary council.
  • One-off complexity and cost involved in setting up and transferring services. 

 

Option 2b – Creation of two Unitary Councils (A and B)

Unitary Council A – Medium Conurbation consisting of Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, plus the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in this area. 

Unitary Council B – Medium Dorset consisting of East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland, plus the services currently provided by Dorset County Council in this area. 

Features

  • Would provide a total contribution of £46.7 million towards the funding gap in 2024/25 (providing £45.3 million for the Medium Conurbation’s annual budget and £1.4 million for the Medium Dorset annual budget and £1.4 million for the Medium Dorset annual budget).
  • Most financially viable option out of 2a, 2b and 2c.
  • Dorset’s urban and sub-urban areas to be served by one council, the rural area by another.
  • Most balanced population split of the three options.
  • One-off complexity and cost involved in setting up and transferring services.

 

Option 2c – Creation of two Unitary Councils (A and B)

Unitary Council A – Small Conurbation consisting of Bournemouth and Poole.

Unitary Council B – Large Dorset consisting of Christchurch, Dorset County Council, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland.

Features

  • Would provide a total contribution of £32.8 million towards the funding gap in 2024/25 (providing £18.7 million for the Small Conurbation’s annual budget, and £14.1 million for the Large Dorset annual budget).
  • Makes the least saving out of 2a, 2b and 2c.
  • Savings made are the most evenly split across the two unitary councils.
  • Services provided by Dorset County Council remain with the Large Dorset unitary council – no separation/restructuring required. However, services provided by district and borough councils need to be integrated with new unitary council.

 

Further information about options 2a, 2b and 2c

  • There are currently 330 councillors serving throughout Dorset, this number would be reduced under the two new unitary councils. The Boundary Commission would review the number of councillors needed, and there would be new local elections for the newly-created councils.
  • If a two-unitary council structure is chosen, the number of staff in director, senior manager posts, and back office/corporate functions would be reduced.
  • Established ceremonial positions of Mayor would remain.
  • There will be no need to maintain all of the council’s current buildings, Dorset council’s will encourage residents to use the internet to pay for things, etc.
  • If a new government structure is chosen, councils would need to make sure that over an agreed amount of time, all residents of one council area pay the same council tax.
  • Business rates are unaffected by any restructuring.

 

One large unitary council for the whole of Dorset replacing all nine existing councils is no longer being considered.

 

Time table of decision

30 August- 25 October 2016 – Consultation with residents and stakeholders over proposals.

December 2016 – The Leaders of each Dorset council consider public feedback and the financial and business case for each unitary option.

January 2017 – Not pursue any of the three options to restructure the local government or submit a business case to the Government about creating new unitary councils for Dorset.

February 2017 – If the decision to restructure is taken forward, the proposal will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Later in the year

Legislation will go through parliament to restructure Local Authorities in Dorset.

2018 – Formation of interim arrangements.

April 2019 – New councils take responsibility for delivering services.

May 2019 – Councillors elected to the new local authorities.

 

Public consultation runs between the 30th August and 25th October 2016.

Members of the public can take part in consultations by:

  • Filling out the online questionnaire at reshaping-your-councils.uk
  • Filling out paper copies of questionnaires which are available in libraries.
  • Attend a road show, details of which can be found online at reshaping-your-councils.uk
  • Meetings which will take place across the county.

 

For more information go to www.reshapingyourcouncils.uk