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  1. ITV Report

Welcome Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to 2019

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Nearly a million people woke up this morning to find they had a new council- one of the biggest authority shake-ups in more than forty years.

Nine councils in Dorset have merged- East Dorset, North Dorset, West Dorset, Purbeck, Weymouth and Portland, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Dorset County Council have been replaced by two new 'unitary authorities'; Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

Bosses say the move will save money and mean more efficient services- but the move means many more people will have higher council tax bills.

  • Watch Richard Slee's report:

Bournemouth Borough Council can trace it's history back to 1890, based in the current town hall since 1921. The last council meeting a few weeks ago was a solemn affair.

There were similar ceremonies in Poole and Christchurch.

Bournemouth Borough council meeting a few weeks ago was a solemn affair. Credit: ITV Meridian

The new boss of the new council for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole says the two much larger unitary authorities will not only save money, but be good for future investment.

  • Graham Farrant, Chief Executive, BCP Council

New branding is also going up in Weymouth, where a new town council has been created which will cost local tax payers an extra £100 a year.

The feeling here is that the much larger Dorset council is too remote to serve the needs of many residents.

  • Jane Biscombe, Weymouth Town Clerk

A new town council has also been created in Christchurch, although the need for that new authority is less clear.

The changes in Dorset do come at a cost. Redundancies alone could be as much as £2million.

But overall, it's claimed that as much as £100million could be saved over the next 6 years.

£100
extra a year for Weymouth residents to pay for new town council
£2mil
worth of redundancies from merger
£100mil
Could be saved in the next 3 years from merger
Redundancies alone could be as much as £2million. Credit: ITV Meridian

Those who've studied this sort of council re-organisation say there' s good and bad aspects to it.

There's a good chance of saving some money and more integrated services being put in place. What's potentially bad is the disconnection between the council and the people, and a feeling that people aren't as represented as they used to be and can't get things done as quickly.

– Professor Darren Lilleker, Political Communication- Bournemouth University

The council's profile is likely to rise when people take a closer look at their council tax bill.