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Weymouth And Portland Councillors Back Merger

WPBC

7:45am 7th November 2014
(Updated 11:23am 7th November 2014)

The country’s first tri-council partnership has been agreed by Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, North Dorset District Council and West Dorset District Council.

The ground-breaking partnership proposal will see the councils share a single workforce and chief executive, saving £6 million by 2020.

Councillors approved the proposals at each authority’s Full Council meeting held over the last few weeks.

Under the plan, each council would remain independent and equal. This means each council would have its own councillors, who will continue to make local decisions about services. Each council would continue to set its own budget, council tax and maintain its separate identity and sovereignty.

The creation of a tri-council partnership includes the proposal for a single workforce serving all three authorities. Office accommodation and ICT systems would be streamlined and shared to increase efficiency.

The tri-council partnership would serve more than 235,000 people and cover more than half the shire county of Dorset.

Cllr Mike Byatt, Chairman of the Management Committee at Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, said: “The tri-council partnership is great news for residents across the three areas.

“It is innovative and ambitious, and will ensure we are in the best possible position to protect front-line services in the face of reductions to local government funding.”

“Together the three councils will have a stronger voice and have more influence locally and nationally and potentially be able to attract more investment through the local enterprise partnership and secure more private investment as part of economic growth plans.”

Cllr Deborah Croney, Leader of North Dorset District Council, said: “This is a landmark decision that will protect and improve services for the future providing an unlimited number of opportunities that will be of great benefit to residents.”

Cllr Robert Gould, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said: “I’m delighted all three councils have agreed to the partnership.

“The three councils have a strong record of partnership and transformation in the face of continuing financial pressures.

"The challenging agenda of change in local government requires new ways of working to secure best possible finances and new partnerships to deliver local services.”

Government funding to all three councils has been reduced by more than 50 per cent in the five years up to 2015/2016. Reductions are likely to continue regardless of which political party forms future Governments.

A partnership between West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council has been running since 2011 and has already saved some £9 million.

The councils have already secured £600,000 from the 2014/15 Government’s Transformation Challenge Award Fund for agreeing to share a chief executive, and the councils have bid for an additional £1.5million from the fund’s 2015/16 pot.

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