THE merger to form BCP Council from three previously separate authorities has not failed, according to senior town hall officials. 

Merging the three borough councils in April 2019 has "saved significant amounts of sums", chief executive Graham Farrant has said. 

BCP Council is likely to raise its council tax by 4.99 per cent in April for the second year in a row, the highest possible without calling a referendum. 

Since the merger five years ago, council tax has risen by 15.53 per cent for residents  

When asked by the Echo if BCP Council is failing or has failed, Cllr Mike Cox defended the unitary authority, saying it hasn’t. 

Read more: BCP Council set to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent

The portfolio holder for finance said: “At the end of the day we've [made] £82 million worth of savings through the merger of BCP and that has had an effect on retaining some services and keeping council tax low. 

“I often remind the good people of Christchurch that actually their council tax has been frozen for many years and so therefore they have benefited from the merger. 

“The merger of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole has had significant cost savings and there's a figure in the report saying £82m of efficiencies have happened.” 

Mr Farrant said that if BCP Council had 'high rates of council taxes' such as in Dorset Council, there would be £32m extra each year and 'we wouldn’t be having this conversation'.  

Read more: Some BCP Council key services could be cut back next year

He said: “I personally think that the merger has saved significant sums of money and you can see the efficiencies.  

“But the external environment has changed dramatically: we had 10 per cent inflation a year ago, we did not get a 10 per cent increase in resources.  

“We had a five per cent increase in council tax and the council tax is only two-thirds of our income, so you do the maths every year and if inflation is running above the level of council tax increase, you're going to have to make cuts in services because there is no other solution.”  

Adam Richens, BCP Council chief finance officer, added: “The figures might quote £82m was the figure up to and including 2023/24. 

“Clearly, if you add the £41m that's being put forward by way of saving sufficiency, service reductions and extra income, then the cumulative amount of annual savings delivered by BCP Council is £123m. 

“This is significantly more than any figure ever quoted in the LGR process.” 

A rise in council tax would mean a Band D taxpayer who paid £1,683.23 in 2023/24 could be paying £1,767.22 for the year from April - a rise of £83.99.  

In its budget plan for 2024/25, BCP Council has found £41m of further savings, efficiencies, and additional income generation required to correct the structural £30m deficit inherited from 2023/24.