MORE than 7,000 new businesses were formed in Dorset last year – but the rate of growth was down on previous years.

Poole led the way with 2,700 companies formed, while Bournemouth had 2,098.

With 7,242 companies created and 5,040 dissolved, Dorset had 52,411 firms, up four per cent from the year before. But the rate of growth was 6.3 per cent the year before and 8.5 per cent in 2015.

The figures are in the Inform Direct Review of UK Company Formations, using data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics.

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct, said: “These figures for new company formations during 2017 show that Dorset continues to be a fertile ground for entrepreneurs and new business ventures.

“Although a successful year, there was a fall in the number of new businesses established in 2017, compared to the previous year – 7,242 versus 8,113 in 2016 – which mirrors the national trend.

“This slowdown could be attributed, at least in part, to ongoing political uncertainty and concern in the business community over the impact of Brexit.”

Across the UK as a whole, there was a reduction in the number of new company formations – 634,116 compared with 664,720 at the end of 2016.

Dorset saw 9.7 company incorporations per 1,000 residents, against a national average of 10.

In Poole, the council ward with the highest number of company formations was Branksome East, with 563. Canford Heath performed worst, with the number of companies down by nine, while Canford Cliffs stood at minus five and Hamworthy East down one.

In Bournemouth, Littledown and Iford led had a net increase of 277, while Central ward was in second place with 110. At Kinson, the figure was minus 13.

At Christchurch, Portfield and Purewell and the Stanpit ward both had a positive figure of 11, while St Catherine’s and Hurn had minus 63.

The number of new companies formed across the county was: Poole 2,700, Bournemouth 2,098, West Dorset 815, East Dorset 583, Purbeck 282, North Dorset 279, Christchurch 271 and Weymouth and Portland 206.