What is LGR (Local Government Reform)?
Dorset is home to the 16th largest urban area in the UK: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (with a population estimated to reach 410,300 by 2019). Currently, these communities are looked after by nine different authorities. The plan is to replace these authorities with two unitary councils for all of Dorset – one for urban areas (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole), and one for rural (the rest of Dorset).
The plans for LGR in Dorset were proposed in a document called “Future Dorset”, which was presented to the Secretary of State for Community Affairs back in February 2017. The changes became law in June 2018, and it is currently planned that the new councils will be live as of 1st April 2019.
How will this benefit me?
It’s estimated that over the next six years, this new structure will create savings of around £100m. The idea is that residents will benefit from improved public services as a result of these savings, and ultimately enjoy a more localised service that better suits their needs, making their area an even better place to live and work.
With less overheads, the new councils will have more money to spend on parks, road repairs, libraries, children’s services, and adult social care.
The change is designed to work for all of Dorset, not just part of it. Its goal is to protect local frontline services, generate further economic growth and provide better structure to local councils and the communities they serve.
Do I need to do anything?
Although this process will create a new council for our area, as a resident you will not have to do anything. Bins will still be emptied, roads will still be maintained, and residents currently in care will continue to be looked after by the people they know and trust.
What changes will I notice?
What will change is the name of the council we pay our council tax to.
Instead of Bournemouth Borough Council, Poole Borough Council and Christchurch Borough Council/Dorset County Council, we will instead pay the new council. It has yet to be named, but is currently known as the BCP Shadow Authority.
It is important to note that the three towns will be as they are now, retaining their unique historical and ceremonial traits.
Does the Shadow Authority mean we are now paying for two councils?
The Shadow Authority is currently running in tandem with our existing councils. Their task is to ensure a smooth transition process. Our current councils in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are unaffected and will continue to run services up until 31st March 2019, so we are still only paying for the one council.
When will elections for the new councils be?
The new councils will be established in April 2019, with elections taking place on 2nd May. The form of these elections will be determined in Parliament by statute.
Will this proposal be challenged?
Yes. Although eight of the nine councils in Dorset all approve the change, this is not quite the case in Christchurch.
They currently have a legal case against the planned new council, which is expected to be heard in the High Court by 27th July.
How can I learn more?
To learn more about the process as a whole, check out www.futuredorset.co.uk.
News and updates about the Shadow Authority are published regularly on the BCP Shadow Authority website, www.bcpshadowauthority.wordpress.com.
You can also follow them on Twitter: @BCP_SA
What’s your view on LGR?
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