Weymouth and Portland council to enter exploratory talks with North Dorset

Dorset Echo: Weymouth and Dorchester councils to enter exploratory talks with North Dorset Weymouth and Dorchester councils to enter exploratory talks with North Dorset

COUNCILLORS have agreed to talks over the possibility of adding another Dorset council to a shared services partnership in a bid to save millions of pounds.

They are considering whether North Dorset District Council could join the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and West Dorset District Council joint staffing partnership.

The Management Committee at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council agreed to enter in to formal talks between the three councils to investigate the potential for establishing a three-way joint staffing partnership.

Although in the very early stages, with no decisions made other than to discuss the pros and cons of the union, the move could mean even more savings on top of the £3 million already saved by the borough and West Dorset sharing services.

The union could be the first tri-council partnership in England and Wales.

Council bosses say it could give the authorities more clout with central government and could potentially look at sharing services.

Speaking before the meeting a spokesman for WPBC and WDDC said it is too early to tell if jobs could be at risk if the tri-council partnership goes ahead.

Management Committee councillors also agreed that members of the Joint Advisory Committee should be involved in discussions and team meetings arranged to co-ordinate the partnership development and joint bid for Transformation Challenge Funding.

Some government money from the fund could be bid for in order to fund the exploratory work.

Chairman of the management committee Mike Goodman said: “The scope for major saving in terms of managing staff and operations is not as big as when we did the merger with West Dorset District Council.”

However, he added there could be practical benefits including a scheme looking to retain on street parking that could be boosted by working together to influence Dorset County Council.

Cllr Colin Huckle said: “I think we need to be very confident as negotiations go on it will be something effective for us, and if it's not, we would have to say no.”

Cllr Andy Blackwood said he was 'struggling' to see what the benefit would be for the borough. He said: “We have to be convinced this will be beneficial to Weymouth and Portland.

“It's down to North Dorset to convince us.”

Chief Executive David Clarke said: “We are not going into negotiations, we are going into a co-operative discussion, to explore if there are benefits.

“It's about exploring what have they got to offer and what have we got.”

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