DORSET COUNTY COUNCIL is planning to save £4,000 a year by giving up its membership of the Assembly of European Regions (AER).
The move is part of the council’s efforts to save £48.6 million over the next three years. Dorset is one of only three UK local authorities to belong to AER (according to the assembly’s website). The others are Hampshire and Kent.
Elsewhere in Europe, AER has nearly 300 members from 33 countries.
Pulling out will mean Dorset misses the chance to participate in AER’s three main committees covering the Economy and Regional Development, Social Policy and Public Health, and Culture, Education and Youth.
Opportunities will also be lost in lobbying, networking and communications.
To quote AER’s website:
Communications – On the one hand, AER members receive a Daily Monitoring and Weekly Media Review of the most relevant European, state and regional issues. On the other, they are able to post their own Visiting Cards, press releases, and videos on AER’s website, giving them easy and direct access to a worldwide online audience (see AER’s home page at: www.aer.eu).
Dorset County Council’s head of planning Don Gobbett said: “The county council’s decision to end its membership of the Assembly of European Regions will not affect its ability to draw down European funds, influence European policy or learn from other local authorities in Europe.
“Whether or not people think we should be part of the EU, the fact remains that we are. The county benefits from EU funding and we need to influence EU policies, which could end up costing the council money.
“We can also learn from what happens in other parts of Europe and so save money and provide services more efficiently and effectively.”
Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series of articles highlighting some of the smaller public sector cuts occurring in Dorset.