MEETINGS with Dorset’s new MPs are being planned by Dorset Council leader Nick Ireland – in the hope of winning a better deal for Dorset.

He says that 14 years of Conservative rule, both locally and nationally, brought little benefit to the county which has been neglected by central Government.

“The election of six new, non-Tory MPs and a Labour government provides a unique opportunity to ensure Dorset is no longer on the periphery and I'll be seeking meetings with all eight Dorset MPs, both individually and collectively, to seek their support in implementing the programme of much needed change that the Liberal Democrat-led Dorset Council is implementing and that their constituents both need and deserve,” said Cllr Ireland.

The discussions are expected to include the amount of financial grant given to Dorset which gets one of the lowest levels of Government financial support (Rate Support Grant) in the country, while also having one of the highest levels of council tax.

The county’s police and fire and rescue service budgets have also been set by previous Governments at low levels, compared to similar areas, and take no account of the summer influx of visitors or the rural nature of much of Dorset.

Cllr Ireland’s other issues include improving the amount of ‘affordable’ housing in Dorset, with a possible return of some council-built homes, and economic investment to boost the economy, some of it targeted at Weymouth and Portland.

He has already re-introduced a £2million programme to help those suffering financial hardship and would like to extend the support available to residents in need through Dorset Council in partnership with other community organisations.

Cllr Ireland is likely to get a sympathetic hearing from all of the newly elected Labour and Lib Dem MPs, especially from the new Lib Dem Mid-Dorset and North Poole MP, Cllr Vikki Slade, who has first-hand experience of the problems of local government finance in her role as leader of neighbouring Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

At the time of the Dorset Council elections in May she said she hoped that the two unitary councils could find ways of working closer together to make improvements for both sets of residents.