TALKS could be held to decide whether North Dorset District Council should join Weymouth and Dorchester’s council partnership.

Councillors are being asked to approve formal talks to consider a three council partnership of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council (WPBC), West Dorset District Council (WDDC) and North Dorset District Council (NDDC).

If agreed, it would be the first tri-council partnership to exist in England and Wales.

The move would mean further savings for the authorities on top of the £3 million already saved by the borough and West Dorset sharing services.

It would cover an area with a population of 230,000 people and would give the authorities more sway with central government, council chiefs say.

A spokesman for WPBC and WDDC said it is too early to tell whether jobs would be at risk if the tri-council partnership went ahead. In 2011, 80 council jobs were axed under the new joint working arrangement.

A spokesman said: “Formal discussions are still yet to take place between West Dorset District Council, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and North Dorset District Council to explore and investigate the potential benefits of a three-way staffing partnership.”

Councillor Mike Goodman, WPBC spokesman for corporate affairs and continuous improvement, said: “We have to develop new models of local government in response to changes in the way councils are now funded, but also to be positive and seize commercial opportunities that arise in the future.

“A three-council partnership would represent over 230,000 people and half the county area, giving us a more powerful voice in both Dorset and further afield to influence positive outcomes for our residents.”

Leader of WDDC Robert Gould said: “These are early days but our partnership delivery programme has always included future phases to work with others.

“A three council partnership would allow us to provide services more efficiently, take advantage of economies of scale and work together to become less reliant on Government funding.”

Cllr Deborah Croney, leader of NDDC, said: “It will be important to determine what the benefits would be to North Dorset residents of a partnership arrangement.”

A report seeking approval for formal talks to begin between the councils will be presented to the next management committee meeting of WPBC on April 1.