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Referendum plea in Dorset unitary row

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Christchurch BC is set to hold a referendum to try to resolve a row over unitary reorganisation in Dorset.

The council in February rejected a plan under which it would join existing unitaries Bournemouth and Poole BCs in a new unitary, with a second unitary formed to cover East Dorset, North Dorset, West Dorset and Purbeck DCs and Weymouth & Portland BC.

Christchurch’s vote was against the advice of leader Ray Nottage (Con) who was subsequently ousted by the ruling Conservative group and succeeded by acting leader by David Flagg (Con).

Supporters of the two-unitary model have cited a public consultation last year as reason for backing the idea and they are to formally put the proposals to communities secretary Sajid Javid.

Five councillors, including four Tories and one independent, have called for an extraordinary full council meeting next week to debate holding a referendum to determine public opinion on reorganisation. This does not propose any precise wording for a referendum question.

David Flagg Christchurch

David Flagg Christchurch

David Flagg

Cllr Flagg said: “Before making any representations to the secretary of state about the possible reorganisation of local government in Dorset it is vital that councillors take into account the wishes of our residents. It is important people have their say.

“The consultation carried out last year presented us with a variety of results and by holding a referendum we will understand what truly matters to our residents. Once we have the results we will be able to decide the best way forward with all of the evidence before us.”

East Dorset and Purbeck DCs have also opposed reorganisation.




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