4 July 2018

The logo for Digital DorsetThe Shadow Dorset Council has joined other councils across the UK in signing the Government’s Local Digital Declaration. The declaration demonstrates a collective commitment to use the power of digital technology to improve services, benefiting people and communities.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Leader of Dorset Shadow Council, said:

‘In Dorset, we are committed to making a difference for our residents and communities, designing services to meet their needs. It’s an exciting time, with lots of opportunity to connect and empower people and deliver services in innovative ways. We want to make the most of technology so people can find information or deal with us in the way and at a time that suits them.

‘The impact can be simple – getting travel updates on your mobile phone, applying for a school place online or reporting a missed bin on a tablet. But it can also be life-changing. ‘Assistive technology’ can help give people with severely reduced mobility more independence at home, using voice-activated tools such as Amazon Alexa to dictate a shopping list, switch on lights and the heating, or turn up the volume on their television – tasks that they hadn’t previously been able to do.’

Dorset is delivering real digital change in a variety of ways. A network of digital champions in the community – part of the Routes to Inclusion Partnership – is helping people who lack basic digital skills. SmartSole slippers worn by dementia patients carry a non-invasive tracking tool to alert a carer if the person wearing them wanders too far from home. And the new Dorsetforyou website has been redesigned to meet Government Digital Services standards and focus on what customers really want to find on the site.

The Local Digital Declaration embodies five principles of local public services in the internet age. These are:

  • Going further to redesign services around the needs of the people using them.
  • ‘Fixing the plumbing’ to break the dependence on inflexible and expensive technology that doesn’t join up effectively.
  • Designing safe, secure and useful ways of sharing information
  • Demonstrating digital leadership, creating the conditions for genuine organisational transformation to happen.
  • Embedding an open culture that values, incentivises and expects digital ways of working from every member of our workforce.

Read more about the declaration on the Local Digital website.


3 July 2018 – Have your say on new council ward boundaries for Dorset

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people to comment on plans for council ward boundaries across the new Dorset Council.

In May, the government confirmed that local government in Dorset should change with the county and all other councils replaced by two new councils. This includes a new Dorset Council.

The Commission’s consultation proposes ward boundaries to be used to elect councillors in the new authority. The Commission is asking for local views on the proposals before it finalises them in October. A consultation is taking place at the same time on new ward boundaries for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

The consultation runs until 27 August 2018 and is open to anyone who is interested how Dorset will be represented.

The Commission proposes that the council should have 82 councillors in total. The plans propose thirty one-councillor wards, fourteen two-councillor wards and eight three-councillor wards. The boundaries will come into effect at the first election for the authority in May 2019.

Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said: “This is a chance for local people to have their say on how they will be represented by the new Dorset Council.

“We want to build wards that make sense to local people and mean something to them. That is why we want to hear as much local evidence as possible before we finalise the plans in October.”

The full recommendations and detailed interactive maps are available on the Commission’s website at and Hard copies of the Commission’s report and maps will also be available to view at council buildings.

The Commission wants to hear as much evidence as possible to develop final recommendations. Anyone wishing to make a submission to the Commission should write or email by 27 August 2018.

By post:
The Review Officer (Dorset)
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
1st floor, Windsor House
50 Victoria Street
Give your views online:

New Leader Chosen For Shadow Dorset Council

Following the inaugural meeting of the Shadow Dorset Council, the first meeting of
the Shadow Executive Committee took place on 18 June at South Walks House,
Dorchester. Cllr Rebecca Knox was elected and announced as Chairman along with
the Vice-Chairman, Cllr Gary Suttle. Cllr Knox will automatically assume the position
of Leader of the Shadow Dorset Council. She said:

“I am delighted to be elected as Leader of the Shadow Dorset Council. We have
listened to our residents and are doing what they’ve asked us to do in creating a
new Dorset council. That’s our task and that’s what we will do for April 1, 2019.
“We come from six different council areas, but we become one here. We will have
no boundaries and we are committed to working together with a collective
responsibility to do the best for our residents. I look forward to working with everyone to deliver our new council. This is a very exciting time for us all.”

Cllr Rebecca Knox

First meeting of Shadow Dorset Council

Elected Members of the Dorset Area made history by forming the new Shadow Dorset Council, which met for the first time on 7 June at South Walks House in Dorchester. The Shadow Dorset Council will ensure the safe and legal transition from the six existing councils to the new ‘Dorset Council’ in April next year. It consists of all 174 members for the Dorset Area (drawn from the existing Dorset area councils).

It was established when the Structural Order, confirming the creation of the new unitary council, was approved by Parliament and ratified by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP.

The meeting was broadcast LIVE via social media, and councillors used remote handsets to cast live votes on decisions such as the constitution and ratifying appointments. Cllr Hilary Cox was appointed the Chairman of Shadow Dorset Council at this meeting and Cllr Peter Shorland was appointed Vice Chairman. Cllr Cox said:

Cllr Hilary Cox

“Wow. Shadow Dorset Council. A unitary council for our residents. Something I have dreamt of for 21 years. I am delighted to see us all come together to form our new Shadow Dorset Council. This is a huge occasion for local government in Dorset and one which should be celebrated. This is huge opportunity to better streamline our services for our residents and to make them more accessible and modern. I look forward to taking this journey together in creating our new ‘Dorset Council’ for April next year. It is a huge task and as a Shadow Council we must work together to make it happen.”


Interim statutory roles

Interim Statutory Officers

As part of the set up phase of the Shadow Dorset Council, we have been undertaking the recruitment process for interim roles to the statutory posts of Head of Paid Service, Section 151 Officer and Monitoring Officer.  These roles are separate to the substantive roles for the new Dorset Council which, although open to the interim appointees, will be filled through a separate process.  As interim posts the individuals retain their existing terms and conditions of employment and salary. Following a robust selection process involving the leaders of the six councils, supported by South West Councils, the following recommendations for appointment will be made at Thursday’s ( 7 June 2018) Shadow Council meeting:

Interim Head of Paid Service – Matt Prosser
Interim Section 151 Officer – Jason Vaughan
Interim Monitoring Officer – Jonathan Mair

Matt Prosser is currently the Chief Executive of Dorset Councils Partnership, Jason Vaughan is Strategic Director & Chief Finance Officer for Dorset Councils Partnership and Jonathan Mair is Service Director for Organisational Development, Dorset County Council.

Parliament gives official go ahead to create new Dorset Councils
On Wednesday 23 May 2018, 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 the 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 authorities 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 2019. The focus for staff for the next 11 months 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 Dorset Council’s Shadow Authority is made of 206 seats, occupied by 174 existing councillors. The first meeting will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday 7 June 2018, 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 7pm on Wednesday 6 June 2018, at Bournemouth University.

Committee of councils working collaboratively across Dorset meets for the first time
Leaders and councillors from six of the nine Dorset councils have met to begin cross-council discussions on the future of council services in Dorset.

The Dorset Area Joint Committee (DAJC) is made up of representatives from Dorset County Council, East Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

Of the six councils that are represented on the committee, two of them, East Dorset District Council and Purbeck District Council, decided earlier this year not to support the ‘Future Dorset’ proposal which seeks to reduce the nine current councils in Dorset to two unitary authorities.

While they maintain they are not supportive of ‘Future Dorset’, they have agreed that having a place on this joint committee enables them to fully participate in discussions about the future of public services in Dorset.

While all of Dorset’s councils await a decision from central Government on ’Future Dorset’, this  joint committee will look to find solutions to the shared challenge that all councils face: to continue to deliver valued public services against a background of declining resources.

During the meeting on Wednesday 20 September 2017, Cllr Rebecca Knox, Leader of Dorset County Council was elected as Chair of the committee, with Cllr Anthony Alford, Leader of West Dorset District Council, elected as Vice-Chair.

After the meeting Cllr Knox said: “Throughout the meeting, I was pleased to see the spirit of joint working from everyone. During our discussions and workshops we have identified some unique and exciting opportunities which I look forward to exploring at future meetings.

“This is an ambitious programme which will require much hard work and commitment from members but if we work together, there is the possibility that we could create some really positive changes which could benefit our residents, partners and businesses of Dorset.”

Prior to this first formal meeting taking place, members of the committee met during the summer and agreed the areas of greatest importance that their collaborative work will be focused on.

Among the agenda items the committee discussed were plans to develop collaborative working arrangements and the future work of the committee.

Full minutes of this meeting, further details about the committee and its planned future meeting dates and agendas can be found at