Dorset County Council's drive to reduce assets

Dorset Echo: Robert Gould in the reception area of the new council offices in Dorchester Robert Gould in the reception area of the new council offices in Dorchester

DORSET County Council is set to ramp up its efforts to dispose of its assets.

The authority is currently in the midst of a five-year programme to reduce its property portfolio by 25 per cent.

Members of the council’s audit and scrutiny committee were told that so far the authority had seen a reduction of 14.5 per cent and, while the five-year target was unlikely to be achieved, it was hopeful of reaching 25 per cent within six years.

Deputy leader Robert Gould told the committee that the council was now looking at an ambitious new programme that could see the property portfolio slashed to just 25 per cent of its current size.

A proposed baseline model would see four core centres in Dorchester, Bridport, Blandford and either Ferndown, Wimborne or Verwood with a further ten hubs in other communities including Weymouth and Portland.

Through the co-location of a range of services and working with other organisations it was suggested 253 existing buildings could be replaced by between 28 and 42.

Councillor Gould said the reduction of property was just part of a whole new way the council delivers services moving forward.

He said: “It will be challenging and there will be difficult decisions as we apply this in individual localities.”

Coun Gould added: “This is, at this stage, a concept, no firm decisions have been taken.”

Committee chairman Trevor Jones raised questions over the scale of the project.

He said: “This is a very big project, which raises the question in my mind as to whether it’s manageable.”

At the meeting members were also told that work was underway on the council’s ‘Forward Together’ project that will look at radical new ways of working in order to ensure the authority is able to deliver services in the future.

Senior policy and performance manager Sam Fox-Adams said: “We have fewer resources available but what we are trying to make sure is that with this strategic direction we are much more targeted about how we are using those resources.”

Fellow senior policy and performance manager Matthew Piles added: “This is a humungous project, it’s a radical change to how we work and what we deliver and it’s got to be done in a short period of time.”

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