One interesting feature about the material which has been circulated by our nine Councils is that all of it fails to address the reality of life under a ‘super Council’.
The ‘advantages’ have all been heavily promoted but there is a considerable silence about the lack of democracy which will follow the merger.
For example, the new ‘super Council’ will, upon its creation, own and have total control over all the assets currently owned by both Christchurch and East Dorset and this includes all the funds in their respective bank accounts. As Bournemouth and Poole have money issues running into millions, this extra cash will no doubt be most welcome!
The new Council will also be responsible for all planning matters. If it wanted to do so it could grant planning consent for six story high-rise apartments on the coast. It’s not likely to be quite so extreme, but you never know!
There would be no method by which Christchurch residents could challenge any plans relating to either any form of building or the location of the site.
Neither Bournemouth nor Poole have any land left for major development, but not to worry, after all, Christchurch and East Dorset have thousands of acres of greenbelt land .
Whilst there will be a small number of Christchurch Councillors left in a new ‘local’ Council it will, to all intents and purposes, have no power. It will however have a Mayor!
Traffic is also a major problem and both Barrack Road and Fairmile can expect another 16,000 vehicles a day to use the two roads. The reason for this is that 800 new houses are planned for Roeshot Hill (picture below). These plans were put on hold following a public outcry. However, under the new Super Council, no public outcry could stop any decision which they might make.
Gravel extraction to the north of Christchurch will also result in 60 heavy goods vehicles going through Christchurch twice a day. Gridlock!
We now need to look at our existing Council many of whom are supporting the merger with Bournemouth.
Each existing Council will have an agreed number of Council seats on the new Super Council. Christchurch will have nine seats but they will be all be seriously outnumbered once in their new jobs.
The current Leader of the Council is Cllr Ray Nottage. He has the support of nine Councillors, all of whom are his ardent followers. Inevitably, there are questions about why nine Councillors should vote for the merger, knowing full well that their support will lead to the demise of democracy in Christchurch.
It might simply be that like many of us they are simply ambitious and seek to progress their careers and incomes.
Quite why a merger with Bournemouth and Poole is considered a good idea is unknown. Neither Council has covered itself with glory over the past twenty years. Just one example of many, is the Dorset Waste Partnership. This ‘Joint Council Managed’ operation lost £2 million in its first year of operation! This doesn’t speak well of the management abilities of those who will soon be managing your Council Tax.