Judging by the steady stream of letters in the local press on the subject of the new offices for West Dorset District Council (WDDC), now under construction in Charles Street in Dorchester, it would appear that WDDC leader Robert Gould’s wish that we should put this matter behind us, is far from being granted. Indeed my own findings rather indicate the opposite as more and more West Dorset residents, seeing for themselves the scale and setting of this Titanic edifice, express their dismay at what is being done to the county town with their money. As your readers will be aware a number of West Dorset voters challenged the District Council’s accounts for 2010/2011 and this triggered an examination by KPMG, the Council’s “external” auditors. Their report focussed on the issue of the new offices and makes interesting reading – WDDC scoring only 2 out of a possible 4 in terms of “value for money” is far from satisfactory. However, as we all know, very few people will have either the time or the inclination to read it in full. It is for that reason that I am holding a public meeting in Dorchester Town Hall on Wednesday 4th July at 7pm. KPMG’s findings and six recommendations will be considered and the financial truths of the whole affair will be assessed. After reflecting on the likelihood or otherwise of Charles Street Phase 2 (the promised underground car park, stores, hotel, shops etc.), a discussion will follow focusing on what people might be able to contribute to improve both governance and transparency within local councils in the future.
Cllr. Alistair Chisholm