RESULTS of a town poll in Dorchester show the overwhelming majority of those who voted are against West Dorset District Council’s plan to spend £10.7 million on new council offices.
There was a 15.4 per cent turn out for the poll. For new offices: 156 people. Against: 2044.
The Liberal Democrats now want the council to abandon its proposal to build a new HQ as part of the redevelopment of the Charles Street site in Dorchester town centre.
Stella Jones, Leader of the West Dorset District Council Liberal Democrats, said: “The people of Dorchester have spoken clearly. They are completely opposed to what the district council are proposing to do, on which they refuse to consult.
“We congratulate everyone who organised this historic first ever town poll and look forward to an early response from West Dorset District Council as to what they are now going to do.
“Clearly they should abandon the project.”
A town poll was organised after a public meeting called by Dr Sue Farrant, the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary candidate for West Dorset, in Dorchester on March 24.
Another meeting was held in Bridport earlier this week. People there – 80 or so – were also opposed to the council’s scheme.
West Dorset District Council Chief Executive David Clarke said: “District councillors decided in July 2009 to move the council to smaller, more efficient and cheaper offices in Charles Street, Dorchester, and in December 2009 authorised the terms and the signing of the agreement with the developer.
“The results of the parish poll represent the views of less than three per cent of the West Dorset electorate. The result is not binding on the council and does not over-ride the many decisions taken on this issue at public meetings by the democratically elected councillors since the review of the council’s main offices began in June 2007.
“The council’s position remains as decided last December when the terms for the relocation of the offices were approved.
“The planning application for the Charles Street site will be submitted soon.
“I would invite everyone to study the plans and give their views on the planning merits of this £60 million redevelopment scheme providing not only council offices, but a better range of shops, a new 484-space public car park, hotel, affordable homes, public toilets, library and adult education centre.”
West Dorset District Council recently issued an eight-page leaflet seeking to persuade people of the merits of moving from its existing HQ at Stratton House in Dorchester.
More can be read at http://www.dorsetforyou.com/charlesstreet
Outside of Dorchester, people living across West Dorset can have their say in a constituency-wide poll at officespoll.org.uk