The Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
LONDON SW1 4DF
Dear Mr Javid,
Dorset Local Government Reform
We write to express our concern at the delay in the announcement of your view of the plan to reform Dorset local government by replacing the present eleven local government units with two unitary authorities (one for our urban conurbation and another for the more rural areas). This proposal, which was carefully researched and received overwhelming public support, was submitted to your Department in February with a tight programme for implementation in order to avoid uncertainty and disruption of the electoral timetable. The research identified significant administrative cost savings to be made from merging public services in the urban and rural areas. Equally significant however are the major long-term social and economic benefits which will flow from a new ability to plan and service our conurbation’s economy as a single entity. Our urban population is close to 400,000, which approaches the size of Bristol, and we urgently need to develop a strategic vision of our future development and goals.
While awaiting the public announcement of your initial response, our existing authorities have started to merge some back office functions and have also announced a programme of redundancies. This will yield cost savings but as it will yield few, if any, strategic benefits it cannot be good for morale. Our UTC group has been lobbying the local councils to seek support for a unitary authority for the S. E. Dorset Conurbation for more than 6 years and the case is clearly set out in our manifesto and several discussion papers which can be seen on our website. Although your fellow MP Christopher Chope has campaigned locally to keep Christchurch out of the proposal to unite the conurbation, the people there broadly support it and Christchurch, with its industrial estates and major airport, is an essential part of our urban area. We are now concerned that the impetus of the councils’ initiative, which has been truly impressive to date, could be lost if your announcement to enable them to proceed to the next stage is delayed further. Please therefore expedite giving our local authorities the authority and encouragement to allow the mergers to progress.
Alderman Douglas Eyre