OUR LEADER SPEAKS – updated 16 DecemberHere is an Echo report about the Council Leaders’ meeting, which apparently is in favour of merging with Poole and Bournemouth. Here is what our Leader, Cllr Ray Nottage, had to say: I took forward the views expressed by Christchurch members to yesterday’s meeting, as well as feeding back the other resolutions from full council. I was interested to hear the comments from the other eight leaders across Dorset, which I will be reporting back to Christchurch members. As with all councils in Dorset, we will now take the recommendation through the democratic process to further review all the evidence presented as we consider what is best for our residents’ long-term future.
CONSULTATION – Council MeetingYesterday, 13 December, at the Full Council meeting Council voted 11-9 in favour of instructing the Leader that he must press for the adoption of Option 1 – keeping all nine Councils – in the negotiations next week.The tone of the majority side was that no significant reason for change at all had been put forward and Members were therefore unconvinced of the need to change. Here is a brief report in the Bournemouth Echo. Margaret Phipps: It seems clear to me that some reorganisation is necessary. However, I am unhappy that the only options on offer mean that Christchurch will lose its independence and boundaries. It is a fact that in the consultation Christchurch was the only authority in Dorset that did not have an overall majority. More work needs to be done; we need to take some time and look at the options. Denise Jones: We seem to have been funnelled down the path of 2b. We’re not here to fulfil the ambitious ideas of our neighbours; we’re here to decide what is best for Christchurch and that’s what matters. Ray Nottage (Council Leader): We are totally aware that the cost of social care is escalating faster than any sort of process that we can deal in a financial manner. This is about providing pragmatic services to those people. When you say ‘no change’ please take the responsibility for saying to your community ‘I cannot guarantee the services you will receive in ten years time are going to be exemplary.’ That’s what we are talking about here.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW? There are at least three more stages to go through. The Leaders have to agree a formal proposal to put to all nine Councils, and Christchurch will consider this on 31 January. Following this, if Christchurch still refuses then Sajid Javid – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – must decide if he wishes to impose two new Unitary Councils and compel Christchurch to join one.
Which way to go?