This is a special edition of your
Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters

It deals with the CBC Referendum


Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Our apologies if you live outside of the area covered by the referendum
Background to the referendum 
Analysis of the CBC Leaflet
Making Dorset Councils
fit for the Twenty-first Century

The many Councils that make up Dorset County Council along with Bournemouth and Poole Councils want to simplify their structures by streamlining into two new Councils.


One Council will be made up of the seaside urban areas of Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole. The second will include all the rural councils such as West Dorset.

Christchurch currently has 5 out of 46 Dorset Councillors and will be similarly represented in the new council.


This arrangement would be economically good for Christchurch residents since it is generally more economic per person to run urban based as against rural services. Also, Christchurch will benefit from the pooling of its assets with those currently held by Bournemouth and Poole. No assets will be lost. No land will be grabbed.


Residents have not been informed of any viable alternative to that suggested.


In this note CBC=Christchurch Borough Council; DCC=Dorset County Council

These proposals have come about following heavy pressure from Central Government to reform what they and business across Dorset regard as a fragmented and inefficient structure.
Our Council has historically been funded by four sources of income: Council Tax; Business Rates; Fees and Charges (such as parking charges); plus, a Grant from Central Government (that is a portion of the income tax that we pay redistributed back to our Local Authority – it is called Revenue Support Grant).
In the autumn of 2015 the Government announced that over the next few years it would reduce the Grant to nothing and then charge Councils a new levy called a Tariff Adjustment. 

From 2020, Local Authorities must survive on what they can raise locally, including a portion of the business rates, whilst also paying what amounts to a tax to Central Government.
In addition, the cost of providing services to children in care and the elderly have escalated considerably.
The effect of all of this has been to put CBC and other Councils into a funding deficit – potentially spending more money than they take in. Dorset County Council has spent more than it has taken in every year for the last 3 years and is likely to do so again this year.
As part of this change, the Government have made it clear that they wish in future to deal only with a small number of “large” authorities.

Large is undefined but Dorset has four councils in the smallest twenty in England measured by size of electorate, one of which is Christchurch.
In the autumn of 2016 financial analysts called Price-Waterhouse-Cooper produced a paper Case for change: Local government reorganization in Dorset which established the soundness of a Christchurch-Bournemouth-Poole Council that would have the financial muscle to tackle the future.
In the autumn of 2016 a properly constructed opinion survey was undertaken by Opinion Research Services (ORS) across the whole of Dorset. The main results and findings were:
There is a compelling case for local government reorganization in Dorset.
The proposed Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole unitary received over 60% support in all quarters including Christchurch
The support for the proposed Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole unitary was particularly significant in the important business sector – 89% in favour. 
The overall support for cutting duplication and reducing costs is overwhelming
Residents say that quality of service, accountability and value for money are by far the most important criteria for change. They rate local identity as a low priority

Until recently CBC has felt unable to engage or play an active part in addressing these changes. Bournemouth and Poole have been making plans, but Christchurch has absented itself.


Then, on the evening of Thursday 16th November 2017, Christchurch Council voted by majority to spend around £60,000 of our taxpayer’s money on a postal referendum in which they will re-ask a question that was asked and answered in the statistically valid opinion survey undertaken in the autumn of last year by ORS.

You will be sent a voting slip.

Please Participate
You can be sure that the politically active will complete and post their form. It is important that their views do not outweigh those of the silent majority. Please take a moment to ensure that your views are heard by posting your response before 13th December 2017.

If you are approached by anybody offering to help you to fill in the voting slip or to deliver the voting slip to Council Offices for you, please take their name and report them to us. Do not have any further dealings with them.
The CBC Leaflet

In with your voting slip there will be a CBC leaflet that lists reasons to vote “yes” and reasons to vote “no” that are analysed below. 

The reasons to vote “yes” are taken from the proposal that was sent to the Secretary of State by Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Councils which he has said he is minded to implement

They are based upon evidence from across Dorset that we have verified. 

The reasons to vote “no” are far more parochial and originate from CBC. 
We will now analyse them.

Remember, here you can access the history of this government driven plan through our newsletters going back to autumn 2015.

CBC strongly dispute the forecast savings and is preparing its own representation to the Secretary of State

The forecast savings were produced by an independent consultancy Price-Waterhouse-Coopers of the highest reputation using qualified people who have considerable experience of this type of work.

Your Residents Association used retired specialists to examine their work and concluded it was sound.


CBC have not yet produced their alternative analysis and representation although they’ve had the best part of a year so to do. An approach to Hampshire County Council by CBC, asking them to take over from DCC, was rebuffed.

CBC is efficient
CBC is a small second-tier council under the umbrella of DCC which sets the rate for 74% of the council tax paid by residents and that money is then managed in Dorchester; 11% pays for the police; 4% pays for fire and ambulance; and the remaining 11% pays for CBC. How efficient Christchurch may or may not be has insignificant effect.
As to the 11% set locally, left as it is CBC currently has a projected funding deficit and will thus have little option but to charge the maximum allowed by Central Government.
If the amalgamation with Bournemouth and Poole goes ahead, it has been officially confirmed that CBC Council Tax will be frozen at its current level for between 4 and 7 years and may even be reduced.
CBC councillors thus have effectively very little room to manoeuvre. Their officers have made savings by combining their administration with East Dorset. But those savings have been made and can’t be made a second time.
Huge savings are required across the whole of Dorset and these parochial manoeuvres in Christchurch are of little consequence in the big picture. Large investments are required in modern technology to bring the delivery of services up to date and fit to face the future.

A Council the size of Christchurch simply can’t afford to develop and maintain such operations.
In the new unitary there would be fewer councillors from Christchurch than from either Poole or Bournemouth

DCC is currently run by a Council of 46 Councillors of which Christchurch supplies 5, Lesley Dedman (Mudeford), Peter Hall (Central), Colin Jamieson (Walkford), David Jones (Burton) and Margaret Phipps (Commons).

In 2016-17 DCC spent £31 million more than the income it received. It has already reported similar difficulties in 2017-18

These five are all also Christchurch Councillors and all voted to spend £60,000 of tax payer's money on this referendum.  


In 2015-16 (the last year for which figures are available on Dorset For You) their total allowances from their combined council jobs were as follows:

Name DCC CBC Total
Dedman £13,833 £4,872 £18,705
Hall £10,851 £4,071 £14,922
Jamieson £22,852 £8,056 £30,908
Jones £16,273 £6,822 £23,105
Phipps £11,199 £8,202 £19,401


A lot of residents do not realise that we have such a small representation (we are a very small portion of Dorset’s population – just 6%) and in our view the leaflet statement should make the existing situation clear.


The structure of the new council has not yet been decided but representation will be based upon size of population.

We have local control over local services for local people

This is factually incorrect.

For example, CBC has no control whatsoever over the road building and maintenance programme. Let us repeat, 74% of your Council Tax is controlled and spent in Dorchester – which is far more remote than Bournemouth and Poole

Planning is controlled by The Planning Inspectorate in Bristol


On other fronts, Christchurch is already heavily involved with Bournemouth and Poole. As an example, take a company which is wholly owned by Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole councils called Tricuro, that provides a range of quality care and support for vulnerable adults.

They have highly trained and skilled staff and offer flexibility, consistency and reliability of service across the county which are focused on meeting the needs of people in our communities. Through the successful delivery of these services, they create efficiencies to enable continually expanding and improving services to customers.

Our refuse is collected by The Dorset Waste Partnership whose local vehicles are serviced in Bournemouth

Also, in the new council all councillors will be local people rather than coming from all parts of Dorset.

Better strategic planning through enhanced partnership working

Strategic Planning occurs at a regional level through the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership which strongly supports the two-unitary solution and includes such things as inward investment. That isn't going to change.

Partnership working is about saving money day-to-day, which is what the proposed new council will do.

The successful partnership with EDDC could continue and could be extended to other councils

The word “could” is significant. It means this is an aspiration rather than a promise.


If this is a serious suggestion, the other Councils should be named – who are they? The only Councils that are large enough to make a difference are all in favour of the proposed new two-unitary arrangement.


Evidence has yet to be made available that CBC has a robust, cost effective, alternative plan to offer that would produce the levels of savings required in Dorset within the timespan being largely dictated by Central Government.

A public meeting about the merger held at the Priory Church on Monday 20th November gave some clarification. When asked about the cost of providing statutory services in Christchurch, a local Councillor made it clear that there was no prospect of Christchurch standing on its own as a unitary authority. We had previously reported that to you back in August.

It was then announced that our council was exploring joining Hampshire County Council.  

Hampshire County Council

The process of moving Christchurch out of Dorset and into Hampshire would cost a lot of money with no obvious immediate or even longer-term payback.  We asked CBC Chief Executive David McIntosh about this and he confirmed that there would be a cost to ending the CBC-EDDC partnership as EDDC bear some of the overheads of the operations. 

This could be mitigated by for example moving to a smaller and cheaper civic building but things such as that take time.  In the main savings would have to be made through reduced services. 

We know that the Secretary of State would evaluate any such proposal on (a) whether it will increase the efficiency of local government across the whole of Dorset  (b) whether it makes better geographic sense that a CBC-Bournemouth-Poole unitary and (c) whether any proposal has local consent within Dorset.  We can't see how such a proposal could satisfy any of those tests.

There appears to be no strategic advantage to anybody in simply moving Christchurch across the county border. The geographic fit is nothing like as good as with Bournemouth and Poole. The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, which is responsible for strategic investment in the area, is focussed on Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

Hampshire County Council, who currently have significant problems of their own, clearly thought the same. They turned the offer down.


Christchurch would retain its sense of place

The structure of the local council is not related to sense of place, heritage, history or community. Heritage and history are immutable.

A community is a function of its people not council structures. Sense of place relates to people interacting with one another within the atmosphere created by the priory, the rivers, the SSSIs.


None of that will be remotely affected by changing the structure of the council

 Most of us tax payers are more interested in how much Council Tax we pay and what services we get for our money than how the Council is structured.

However, if we must choose, the ORS paper Reshaping Your Councils Consultation dated December 2016 demonstrated that most of Dorset’s councillors, councils, residents and business representatives overwhelming favour one coastal, urban Council and a second rural Council for the rest of Dorset.

This postal referendum represents a vastly inferior methodology to that used in the statistically sound opinion survey undertaken by ORS.

It will be parochially limited to Christchurch rather than the whole of Dorset.


It does not offer you the choice of a viable alternative structure.


The result is non-binding upon CBC, DCC, and Central Government. The business community is excluded.

Will the Minister take any notice?
Here’s what the Government Minister had to say when asked about the proposed referendum. The added emphasis is ours:
Such polls do not have any legal standing, and the results would be considered as a representation alongside all other representations received
Ministers will of course consider all representations they receive from across the whole of the area under consideration, giving them the weight they consider appropriate when considering all the representations in the round, in reaching a decision about the future structure of local government across the whole of Dorset.
It is likely that more weight would be given if the representation is supported by evidence rather than an expression of an opinion alone.  
This reply from the Minister appears to home in on the two major strategic weaknesses of the "no change" position
First, it is parochial – it ignores the fact that Christchurch is but a small part of Dorset (about 6% of Dorset’s population) and we must have a pan-Dorset solution.
Second, the “no” option offers no economically viable alternative. Opinion on its own is worth very little without also offering a viable alternative solution.

Please ensure that your views are heard. Post your response as soon as possible and in any event before 13th December 2017

Community Matters is produced and edited by a team of local residents who try to present you with the facts that will both keep you informed and enable you to make up your own mind on local issues
Jumpers and St Catherine's Hill RA

We are run by a committee of volunteers and a team of helpers who give their time free of charge in an effort to protect the environment that we all enjoy whilst living in this beautiful area
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