COUNCIL offices in East Dorset are to close - making Christchurch Council's Civic Offices safe.

Speculation has surrounded the possible closure of the Christchurch council offices since an email from Chief Executive David McIntosh to staff, was leaked to the Daily Echo last year, laying out future accommodation plans for the Partnership.

A statement released on Wednesday afternoon said after looking at the options, a working group has decided the best one would be to have the majority of council staff located in the current Civic Offices with a smaller Civic Hub to be built in Wimborne.

Existing offices at Furzehill will be disposed of while the Civic Offices at Christchurch will continue to provide customer services and retain the council chamber, the statement said.

Officers have been asked to prepare a report to go to each council's resources committee seeking approval for further work on the preferred option.

Once completed, another report will be drawn up with a view to its recommendations being implemented.

No specific timetable has been drawn up but the move could take around three years.

Mr McIntosh 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 council to set balanced budgets.

“However, the pressure on future government 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.

“Although we will be reducing our costs, there would be no intention of reducing services to the public in either council area as part of any accommodation changes.

“Each of the two councils would be maintaining its sovereignty and will continue to meet and make decisions which are in the best interests of their respective areas.

“As there has been a lot of speculation about our future plans we thought it best to make the announcement to our members and our staff now so that they know the possible outcome. We will keep our members, staff, residents and the general public fully aware of any plans as they develop.”

Staff and councillors have been told about the plans on Wednesday.