On Wednesday 23 May, the Parliamentary process to create two new councils in Dorset concluded, with the legislation being passed in both Houses of Parliament.  The two new councils for Dorset, one serving the Dorset Area and one serving the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Area will now start to be formed. The current nine councils will cease to exist on 31 March 2019, with the two new councils coming into effect on 1 April.

The leaders and Chief Executives of the current eight councils who have consented to local government have welcomed the news, and can now really start to process of transitioning to the two new authorities.  The two Joint Committees, which have been meeting since last summer, will now disband to make way for two ‘Shadow Authorities’, one for each of the new council areas.

At the first meeting of each of these two shadow authorities, statutory officers will be appointed on an interim basis. The three roles to be appointed will be head of paid service, monitoring officer and chief finance officer. Members will also need to be elected to various, relevant committees.  Each shadow authority will take responsibility for, and oversee the implementation plans for the new councils.

The budgets for the new councils will be set a meeting in early 2019.

The shadow councils are not involved in ongoing service delivery, as these functions remain with the nine councils that currently exist, and will then transfer to the appropriate new council in April next year. The focus for staff for is to continue to deliver services between now and then, and to make plans for smooth continuity on day one of the new councils.

 The Shadow Dorset Council is made of 206 seats, occupied by 174 existing councillors. The first meeting will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday 7 June, at South Walks House in Dorchester. The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Shadow Authority is made up of 125 seats, occupied by all 120 existing councillors from those areas. Their first meeting will take place at on 6 June, at Bournemouth University.