Two councils that had previously opposed plans to create two new unitary authorities for Dorset have now withdrawn their objections, following Sajid Javid’s announcement he was ‘minded to support’ the plans.
East Dorset District Council and Purbeck District Council have now signed on to the plans, which would see them merging with North Dorset, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland councils.
An attempt to defer East Dorset’s decision to allow more time to consider the views of residents was narrowly voted down at a meeting on Monday 11 December before the decision on the proposal was reached.
Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of EDDC, commenting on the Council’s about-face said:
“It was important to look at other opportunities in an ever changing financial environment. There was nothing that came anywhere close to this option in terms of opportunities and it is about opportunities, not just about making savings.”
Of Dorset’s nine existing councils, Christchurch is the only one still in opposition to the plans. It seems unlikely their stance will be changing any time soon, as a consultation held to consider the proposals returned an 84% No vote on the proposed merger with Bournemouth and Poole.
Council leader David Flagg said one option would for Christchurch to join the new ‘rural’ unitary authority covering the wider county, rather than the seaside conurbation. “I think the council originally didn’t want to lose its sovereignty,” he said.
“If we are going to be forced down this route, personally, I would rather be in the shire rather than the city by the sea.”