Dorset is about to embark on a dating game – looking for a suitable partner, or partners, to bid for Government cash.

Imagine the lonely hearts advert’: “Ambitious council seeks soul mate for mutual support and exciting prospects.” Probably not, but that is the idea.

The suitors might include Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, parts of which Dorset has had a past relationship with and today shares mutual interests through public health, a transport plan and the police; Somerset, which can offer a border and shares the delights of also having seaside towns and a need for quality jobs; Wiltshire, where Dorset shares a fire and rescue service; and Devon where there is a small mutual interest through some aspects of the police service, although attempts to get closer in the past led to a messy end to the relationship.

Dorset Council’s Cabinet says the council needs to partner up with one of more of its neighbours for the purpose of bidding for pots of Government money where Dorset alone, with a population of less than 500,000 is seen as being too small.

Areas where joint bids for funding might work include the environment, public transport and housing schemes, but not exclusively those areas.

Portfolio holder for economic growth Cllr Simon Gibson told Cabinet members that Government preferred to see all-powerful Mayors for an area, but he believed that there was no appetite for that either in Dorset, or amongst neighbours.

“This is a once in a generation chance to be ambitious and to deliver genuine change,” he said.

Weymouth Green councillor Brian Heatley said he could see the logic of working with others to attract Government money, but questioned the timing.

“If we started two years ago, fine, but starting now makes me a bit doubtful,” he said.

Council leader Spencer Flower said he remained open about who it might be best to partner with – but stressed that whoever it was with, each council involved in the deal would remain sovereign: “It’s a conduit to bring in funding we wouldn’t otherwise get,” he said.

Highways and climate portfolio holder Cllr Ray Bryan who was a key player in winning £19million from the Government for his department said Dorset was recognised in Westminster for delivering on projects, but lacked the critical mass that Government departments liked to deal with.

“Dorset Council hits well above its weight in ambition. Unfortunately the Government doesn’t recognise that…whoever we go with should have the same ambition,” he said.

Finance portfolio holder Cllr Gary Suttle backed a proposal to start the process and talk to neighbouring councils to see if they had an appetite for the idea.

“The trick is to get those other authorities to think that the things we want to do are also the things that they want to do.

“Right now we know very little about what the priorities will be…but as a method to bring in significant funding this is the best deal in town,” he said.