Council Tax Harmonisation options, electoral arrangements and the legal name of the new council are all up for consideration by the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Joint Committee next week (Friday 15 December).
Councillor Janet Walton, Chair of the Joint Committee, said: “We have an extremely busy agenda and that is testament to the vast amount of work that has been undertaken by elected members and officers in just a few short weeks since our last Joint Committee meeting on 21 November. There will be much to be debated and I look forward to an energetic and productive meeting.”
A Task and Finish Group on the Structural Change Orders is recommending the legal name for the new council, for the purposes of the Structural Change Order, is Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. It also makes recommendations that all 120 existing councillors of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councils are members of the Shadow Authority, which comes into effect once the Structural Change Order is passed in Parliament. A Shadow Executive Committee is also recommended, comprising 16 Members, to be determined at a later date by the Shadow Authority.
The Council Tax Harmonisation Task & Finish Group will report that it has reviewed 18 models by which council tax harmonisation could be achieved. In the context of the resolution at the last Joint Committee, that work should prioritise models that ensure no rises are above the government’s referendum limit and that council tax in Christchurch could be frozen or reduced, these have now been limited to five options. These options could see council tax rises of £29 and £24 per annum in Poole and Bournemouth respectively for seven years, with a total saving to Christchurch council tax payers of £948 over the same period. Whilst this would result in council tax foregone, this remains less than the estimated annual savings forecast for the new council, of £10.3m per year.
The Joint Committee will also receive updates on the medium term financial position of Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Dorset Councils. This continues to show significant pressures on budgets for delivering services to the residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole for at least the next three years, with a 2019/20 funding gap for Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole of £8.6million and Dorset County Council (of which a portion relates to services in Christchurch) £15.3million.