Voters in Dorset will go to the polls on Thursday 2 May to elect the 82 members of the new Dorset Council, across 52 wards.

Local elections have traditionally been carved up by the three main political parties, but this election will see several independents standing under the ALL for Dorset banner.

downs-from-salisbury-field

The fate of proposed housing developments such as on the downs north of Dorchester, seen here from Salisbury Field, will be decided by the new Dorset Council

The new council will be deciding the fate of future housing need in Dorset in the Local Plan. So if you are against new large-scale developments destroying the countryside, such as the ones at North Dorchester and Crossways, make sure whoever you vote for opposes these moves. And if they won’t give you a straight answer, don’t vote for them!

Anyone can stand as a candidate – the nomination period to stand in the Dorset Council election opens on 18 March and the deadline to put your name forward is 3 April.

Dorset Council chief executive designate Matt Prosser said: “Councillors play a key role in local democracy. They are the voice of their communities and help shape future services for local people.” Information on being a councillor at can be found at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/become-a-local-councillor.

Meanwhile, councillors have backed the first budget of the new Dorset Council. The new unitary authority, based in South Walks House, Dorchester – currently home to West Dorset District Council – will be formed on 1 April and will replace six district and borough councils, and the county council.

From 1 April 2019, all residents in the new Dorset Council area will pay a standard council tax rate for Dorset Council. The average band D rate will be £1,629. This does not include charges for town or parish councils, the police or fire services.

The new council will have a balanced budget for 2019-20 of £295 million, despite facing “significant financial pressures” due to growing demand for social care and support for children with special educational needs, and reduced government funding.

The reorganisation of councils in Dorset has enabled significant savings, including:

 A reduction in the number of councillors from 204 to 82, saving £400,000;

 A reduction in the number of senior officer roles, and saving on duplication of services such as finance, HR and IT, freeing up more than £5 million.

Extra spending includes £5.8 million on education; £900,000 for more foster carers; £1.4 million for rubbish collection, recycling and street cleaning; £1.5 million for adult social care; and £150,000 to help tackle homelessness.

Cllr Tony Ferrari, lead member for finance for the Shadow Dorset Council, said: “Replacing six county, district and borough councils with one new unitary council has enabled us to make significant savings and efficiencies by removing duplication across the old councils.”

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