The proposal to move Dorset Council out of their headquarters at South Walks House, coupled with the intention to tack another 4,000 houses onto the county town is the latest saga involving the local authorities charged with running Dorset.

South Walks House was built only about ten years ago, against strong local opposition, as new headquarters for the West Dorset District Council at a cost of about £16 million, including planning and development costs.

This we were told was justified because the existing WDDC offices in High West Street were cramped, expensive and could not be improved due to their status as listed buildings.

Additionally, the new ‘state of the art’ building would provide better facilities as well as a reduction of £200,000 per year in running costs.

The construction of the new headquarters at South Walks was to be Phase 2 of an overall plan to redevelop the whole of the Charles Street Car Park.

Phase 2 of the plan became phase 1 and work started on the new council headquarters. The developers were paid an additional £1 million to cover unforeseen costs, and not long after this, it was announced that the plan for all the shops, houses and offices was no longer viable and the developers pulled out.

This was in fact the second occasion on which a firm of developers had abandoned a similar scheme.

All the previous buildings occupying the Charles Street area had been demolished, and that was how the car park came about.

The only item left was a church, for which the council paid another £1 million to move it to Poundbury. Meanwhile, in the teeth of local protest, the new West Dorset District Council headquarters was completed, the council moved in and the car park remained undeveloped.

Proposals for the establishment of unitary councils were already underway, and questions began to be asked regarding the use of County Hall, in addition to South Walks House, suggesting two headquarters for one council.

Additionally there were now two library buildings.

Now we hear of a plan to move back into County Hall, which will need refurbishment, and will be more expensive to run.

But it is attractive because it sits on its own secluded compound, provides lots of spacious offices, and - most important - 300 car parking spaces.

Meanwhile Weymouth and Portland Borough Council decided to move out of their North Quay headquarters and sell the building, with staff scattered around various other places, including South Walks House in Dorchester.

Now, while the huge development at Poundbury is still unfinished, a similar development on the northern edge of Dorchester is planned.

One of the original arguments supporting the Poundbury development, was that it would prevent any further development to the east or north of the county town. It will certainly put extreme pressure on the town’s infrastructure!

It was only a few years before all this that the Dorset County Council decided to invest £28 million into a collapsing Icelandic bank - about one week before the bank folded. Some years later about £5 million of this “investment” was recovered (and presented as a success) but the rest was lost.

Although Dorset County Council and West Dorset District Council no longer exist, I believe that many of the same decision makers may exist, and I wonder what next they might have in store for the ruination of this historic town and beautiful county.