A proposal to establish a comprehensive joint working partnership between Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole has moved a step forward.
Cabinet members in Poole recommended on Tuesday 11 July that the Council agree in principle to create a single staff structure providing all services across both councils.
The partnership, if agreed by both councils, would be amongst the first of its kind nationally involving two unitary councils.
It would see both councils served by a single, integrated officer team, delivering services to more than 340,000 residents, 10,000 businesses and over 8 million visitors across Bournemouth and Poole.
Importantly, both councils would retain their own sovereignty, identity and democratic processes under the proposals. Each council would also continue to set its own priorities and budget.
The overall aim of the proposal is to protect and improve the quality and efficiency of council services in Bournemouth and Poole.
The two councils have a strong track record of working together to deliver services. Work is already underway to create joint services for libraries, tourism and seafront operations. A single corporate services team providing important back-office functions, including finance, HR, IT, legal and other support teams, for both councils will also be created by April 2018.
Cllr Janet Walton, Leader of the Council, Borough of Poole, said: “Between us, Bournemouth and Poole must save £27.8m between 2018 and 2021. Staying as we are now will not address our current and future financial challenges.
“Creating a single staff structure serving both councils would help us achieve the savings we must make over the next three years and offers a great opportunity to deliver better and more efficient services to our residents and customers.
“It would also lay the foundations for a new unitary council for the conurbation should the Government approve our Future Dorset proposal.”
The proposals will be considered by all Poole councillors at the meeting of Council on Tuesday 18 July. A report to Bournemouth Borough Council will be considered at its Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 19 July, followed by a meeting of its Council on Tuesday 25 July.
Both councils would then consider more detailed proposals in a further report before making a final decision to go ahead.