Information for Parish and Town councils

We’ll be providing regular updates for Town and Parish Councils as we progress towards the creation of Dorset Council on 1 April 2019.

You can view the latest newsletters below:

20180821 Town and Parish Briefing

20180904 Town and Parish Briefing

20180919 Town and Parish Briefing


Some town and parish councils have approached the district and borough councils to request the transfer of some assets to them before 1 April 2019. To create some consistency across Dorset, the Shadow Executive Committee agreed the following principles:

i. All assets required for the delivery of council services and those capable of generating income are transferred to the new unitary Dorset Council, but the unique circumstances of Weymouth Town Council and Portland Town Council will be considered separately.

ii. Any resolution prior to 26 May 2018 (when the Secretary of State’s announcement was made) by a sovereign council to dispose of an asset but not yet legally completed may continue unless it contradicts these principles.

iii. Property held as public open space, community buildings, free car parks and public toilets can be considered for transfer to the appropriate town or parish council. It would be expected that a free car park would remain free if the car park was transferred to the town or parish council.

iv. Any transfer of assets will usually be by transfer of the freehold to a public or charitable body or via a long lease (25 years minimum). Transfer will also be dependent on an assessment of the capacity of the receiving authority/organisation to take on the asset. The council would need to be sure that if there is an ongoing maintenance cost or management role, the organisation can take this on.

v. Councils can consider asset transfer to community groups other than parish and town councils where appropriate and subject to the same assessment of the capacity of the group, but such transfers are considered to be lower priority because of timescales and capacity.
vi. Any transfer (other than by a lease) of open spaces will contain overage clauses that will retain the land for public use or, if the land is sold the new Dorset Council will receive a proportion of the proceeds from the sale. When land is transferred legally, the council will put conditions on the deeds and land registration. E.g. for open spaces, generally the expectation will be for the land to be retained as open space for public use. Overage clauses entitle the transferring authority to an additional payment if the land use changes and its value increases.

vii. Where a council has negotiated the devolution of a service to a town or parish council and asset is transferred to support the delivery of that service, there will be no financial loss to the new Dorset Council i.e. the transfer is cost neutral. E.g. if open spaces were transferred, Dorset Council would not pay for grass cutting, but could enter into an agreement with the town or parish council to maintain the land subject to an appropriate payment being made.

viii. No financial agreement will be made with a town or parish council, or other receiving body to support the maintenance and running of a transferred asset after 1 April 2019.

ix. Any asset transfer that could have a financial impact upon the new Dorset Council will be initially assessed by the interim Section 151 Officer and, if it has a significant financial impact, or potential significant impact, seek approval by the Shadow Executive. If an asset exceeds this value, the transfer will be reflected as a loss on the council’s balance sheet. E.g. at Corfe Castle, the parish council have requested transfer of the public toilets but their current value exceeds £100,000. These situations will be referred to the Shadow Executive Committee for a decision.