The deputy leader of Christchurch BC has said her council will seek legal advice after housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid approved a reorganisation proposal that will see the council abolished.
Mr Javid today formally approved the ‘Future Dorset’ proposal to replace nine councils in the county with two unitaries.
Christchurch was the only council to oppose the plan and submitted an alternative proposal to create single unitary covering Bournemouth and Poole BCs, while leaving the rest of the county as two tiers.
Responding to the announcement, Christchurch deputy leader Trish Jamieson (Con) said the Future Dorset plan had been rejected by an overwhelming majority of the town’s residents.
She said: “We are disappointed that the secretary of state has announced his final decision to approve local government reorganisation in Dorset.
“We will be holding an extraordinary full council meeting to allow us to consider our position moving forward and the opinion of the legal profession as to whether there is an arguable error in law.”
LGC reported last month how Christchurch had approved a £15,000 budget to cover legal proceedings.
Cllr Jamieson said the council remained a committed member of the Dorset joint committee of councils and vowed to focus on “getting the best” for Christchurch residents.
Bournemouth BC leader John Beesley (Con) said a single council covering the established urban area incorporating Borough of Poole and Christchurch would serve residents “far better”, as demand-led pressures in adult social care and children’s services had “made the existing structure of local government unsustainable”.
He added: “Despite the best efforts of all councils in Dorset, the ability to squeeze value out of partnership working in its many forms has not and would not reap the financial and other benefits that will be achieved by implementing Future Dorset.
“I firmly believe public services will be better protected, the economic interests of the area promoted and the quality of life of residents will be improved even further being served by a single, new unitary council.”
Borough of Poole leader Janet Walton (Con) said Mr Javid’s decision would enable the implementation of ambitious regeneration plans.
She added: “One council for the area will have the clout nationally to help us access the funds we need to achieve these aspirations, to position Poole as an attractive location for business and to place at the heart of this our town’s unique maritime history and cultural offer.”
Dorset CC leader Rebecca Knox (Con) said the plan provided a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remodel local services”.
She added: “Local government reform offers an opportunity to move to shared and collective delivery, with a democratic mandate that can act quickly as we work even more closely with our communities and partners to make sure Dorset is a great place to live and work.”