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Shaftesbury town council have failed to support the idea of Dorset becoming a unitary authority after councillors raised objections to the move.

Councillors were debating a request for support for the reorganisation of local government in Dorset from Dorset County Council chief executive Debbie Ward who has written to all local councils asking them to lobby the government minister responsible, Sajid Javid, to confirm they are in favour of the plan, though their approval is not required.

Dorset County Council and Dorset’s eight district and borough councils are due to disappear by April 2019 to be replaced by two ‘unitary’ councils: a single council for the Bournemouth-Poole-Christchurch conurbation and another for so-called Rural Dorset.

Mr Javid has said he will make a final decision after 8 January.

Shaftesbury mayor Councillor John Lewer, chairing an extraordinary meeting of the council on 12 December, tried to persuade members to support approval for the scheme subject to confirmation of a fair financial settlement for rural areas in the new arrangement.

But Councillor Lester Taylor, who represents UKIP, said he strongly opposed the whole idea of the reorganization and other members queried how having two councils for Dorset qualified either to be a ‘unitary’ council.

The council deferred a final decision on its position to a further extraordinary meeting on 2 January.

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