THE government is set to give the go-ahead for councils in Dorset to merge.

The long-awaited decision could be announced as early as today in the House of Commons, the Daily Echo understands.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has been considering the Future Dorset proposals to form two unitary authorities across the county for almost a year.

Pressure on him to make a decision has been ramped up in recent times because of the need to plan for elections next year and the postponement of council polls in Weymouth and Portland in just over two months.

One source told the Echo yesterday the decision was “all set” for the next few days.

Mr Javid is due to make a statement on local government in Parliament today. Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said he had not been made aware of any decision date, but gave his backing to the merger.

“The decision to merge is absolutely the right one,” Mr Ellwood said.

“I’m delighted that the merger proposals look set to go through. It makes sense for Dorset and for Bournemouth. It makes us more efficient and more competitive. We can make our mark when we bid for Government funding.”

In November Mr Javid announced he was ‘minded to’ approve the proposals, which would see Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch councils merge into a single authority with all other councils in Dorset forming a second rural unitary.

North Dorset MP Simon Hoare said the support from nearly all of the county’s MPs and local authorities should see the merger go through.

“We’ve spoken to the Government over the last week to report the need for a positive decision and a timely decision given local authorities are at budget setting and going forward with plans for the future,” he said.

“I hope common sense prevails and the view of the majority is backed.”

The only authority against the proposals is Christchurch, with residents voting overwhelmingly against the merger through a referendum in December. Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope, who met Sajid Javid on Friday, said there could still be a legal challenge.

“If the secretary of state ignores the clearly expressed views of the people of Christchurch we are in for a torrid period of time,” he said.

“We are certainly not going to be bullied into submission.” What we are talking about is the future of an independent sovereign borough which has a proud history.”

The Echo exclusively revealed the proposals for the council shake-up back in the summer of 2015.