13 February 2020
The following are reported today in the Christchurch Times (their headlines):
Council Tax cut for Christchurch
If the BCP budget is accepted, Council Tax in Christchurch will reduce from April 2020, whereas the bills in Bournemouth and Poole will increase. You may remember that there was some debate prior to the merger about the harmonisation of these charges, which have routinely been higher in Christchurch than the other areas. Obviously it was at times a vigorous discussion, with those in Christchurch in favour and, unsurprisingly, the others vehemently against it.
Note the principle: The Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr David Brown, said, ‘We have committed to achieving equal Council Tax across the BCP area by April 2021. Alongside this we are focusing efforts to achieve consistent service levels across our area.’
As an example, he compared the larger conurbation’s spending on roads at approximately £4000 per kilometre with Christchurch’s at around £1000 our kilometre under Dorset County Council.
Plan to sell Civic Offices as council relocates staff
It is planned to sell the Civic Office buildings in Christchurch and Poole for around £7.2-£9.3m, based on estimates. The Bournemouth Office would be revamped to become the base for the whole Unitary Authority, with the majority of staff relocated to this hub.
Cllr Vikki Slade, the BCP Council Leader, said, ‘… we now know that all of our three main corporate sites in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are currently running at an occupancy rate of less than 50%. This isn’t sustainable …’
However, smaller community offices would be maintained in the three towns for drop-ins and meetings with residents.