DORSET Council is being warned by neighbouring BCP council that it may have to pay compensation if it walks away from a jointly run revenue and benefits service.

BCP Council leader Drew Mellor says he would prefer Dorset to remain in the partnership – but has told Cabinet members that if it does go it may result in BCP enforcing the terms of the agreement – which includes compensation.

Dorset councillors have already been warned that the sum could amount to £1.66million but have decided that the cost is worth it to get what they see as a better service for its residents.

The existing service is run jointly between the two councils under the name of the Stour Valley and Poole Partnership.

Dorset Council’s finance portfolio holder, Purbeck council Cllr Gary Suttle, has said that even if the compensation has to be paid the changes will result in the new Dorset system breaking even within two years, with savings from then onwards.

He says it will also mean a better service for Dorset residents who, he claims, often get passed from person to person to sort out claims, frequently having to give their details time after time.

Cllr Mellor told BCP Cabinet members that the service has been “a great success” and had been recommended to expand, which he agreed with.

“Dorset Council’s Cabinet has decided to end the partnership which we were disappointed in. We should endorse our decision to expand it but if there is a dissolution we would want it to be amicable and if we can’t we will look to enforce the contract in its fullness,” he said.

The leader did not specifically refer to the element of compensation which is included in the agreement.

Deputy BCP leader Philip Broadhead said he was also disappointed with the Dorset decision over a service which he said was well thought of: “It has worked well and it is well respected – as they say ‘if it ain’t broke -don’t fix it,” he said.

But not everyone was pleased with the service. Cllr Nigel Brooks said residents in his Highcliffe and Walkford ward were generally not happy with the service and he said there had been ongoing discussions about it.

Dorset councillors have been told that if the agreement is to end notification will have to be given by March with a full year allowed for the service to be disbanded.