THE Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership has been considering how best to accommodate its staff and services.

An officer working group has looked at four possible options, and is recommending posting most staff in the current civic offices in Christchurch with a smaller civic hub to be built in Wimborne, and selling the existing offices at Furzehill.

The Civic Offices in Christchurch would continue to provide customer services and retain the Christchurch Council Chamber.

The Wimborne civic hub would also house customer services, as well as a council chamber for East Dorset, community meeting rooms and a number of workstations for staff to use when working in East Dorset.

It is planned to site council facilities close to public transport routes and car parks.

The Partnership Board, which oversees the development of joint working between the two councils, has agreed that this is the best option and has asked officers to prepare a report to go to each council’s resources committee seeking approval to carry out further feasibility work on the preferred option.

No specific timetable has been drawn up as yet, but implementation looks to be around three years away.

David McIntosh, chief executive of the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership, said: “The decision for Christchurch and East Dorset Councils to share services has proved to be a sound management decision.

“It has provided, and continues to provide, savings which have allowed both councils to set balanced budgets.

“However, the pressure on future spending and the shift of financial risks from central to local government means that we need to look at further ways to reduce costs. We also need to make sure we develop efficient ways of working suitable for the 21st century.

“It makes sense for the majority of our staff to be located in one building, both economically and in terms of efficiency. The cost of our two main buildings is increasing as they age and, having looked at the obvious options, the one we are suggesting is the most suitable.”

He added: We will keep our members, staff, residents and the general public fully aware of any plans as they develop.”