Dorset councils merger 'to go ahead' says Sajid Javid

Dorset coastline
Image caption Dorset's nine councils will become two unitary authorities in April 2019

Plans to scrap Dorset's nine councils to create two unitary authorities have been approved by the Secretary of State for Local Government.

In a ministerial statement, Sajid Javid said he had decided to implement the merger having previously said he was "minded" to support it.

Eight of the county's local authorities voted to support the proposal but it was opposed by Christchurch council.

The decision is subject to parliamentary approval.

The new structure, aimed at saving £108m over six years, would come into effect in April 2019.

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Under the plans, all nine councils would cease to exist and Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch would merge.

The second council would be formed from East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, Weymouth & Portland and West Dorset.

'Disappointing decision'

The reorganisation was proposed after it emerged the authorities had to make £200m of savings by 2019.

An eight-week consultation held in 2016 found residents "overwhelmingly" supported the plans.

The change is likely to lead to the number of councillors being cut from 331 to about 180, and the loss of about 450 - mainly senior - council jobs.

In January, Christchurch Borough Council submitted its own plan for the restructuring of Dorset's local authorities to the government.

Deputy leader of the council Trish Jamieson said the authority was "disappointed" with the decision.

She added councillors would be calling an extraordinary meeting "to allow us to consider our position moving forward and the opinion of the legal professional as to whether there is any arguable error in law".

Purbeck and East Dorset councils initially opposed the plans.

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