Williams Thompson Solicitors

A plan that will result in the death of Christchurch Borough council is fast gathering pace.

The controversial proposal is for there to be a merger of the authorities in Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and East Dorset. This would turn Christchurch from one of the smallest councils in the country to a bit player in what would be the 6th largest.

Lack of funding is the driving force. Government subsidies for local councils reduce every year and will soon disappear altogether. It is therefore imperative that costs are cut. The argument is that combining the councils would enable services to be streamlined and savings made.

Those in favour say that if you were starting with a blank sheet the current situation of separate unitary authorities in Poole and Bournemouth surrounded by a series by a series of Borough Councils overseen by the Dorset County Council would be ridiculous. They argue the business case for rationalisation is overwhelming.

Those against will point to the historic nature of Christchurch and how we have bravely fought off such proposals in the past. The view is that the unique nature of the town is enhanced by our local governance. It enables decisions about our future to be made locally by representatives answerable locally.

Interestingly, one saving recently announced would be a reduction in Councillors by a third. Unlikely to be popular with the Councillors themselves, but one suspects a cull of politicians may be seen as one positive point by the public at large!

At present the debate has mainly been behind closed doors and the idea is still at the stage of ‘feasibility studies’ being undertaken. There are powerful voices, however, pushing the idea and a sense that reorganisation is inevitable. Whether it will appeal to the public and attract their support is yet to be seen.

Peter Watson-Lee

Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce

 

www.williamsthompson.co.uk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 01202 484242

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