In 2017, the Society started a debate on whether the village of Sutton Poyntz ought to seek formal Parish Council status for itself, as part of the Local Government reorganisation that was then being debated in Dorset. The likely outcome of the Local Government reorganisation, if it went ahead, was that Weymouth would become a Town Council as part of a West Dorset Unitary Authority (which would cover the area currently in North Dorset, West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland). As a Neighbourhood Forum, the Society has some legal rights to initiate a debate on Parish Council status, and given that a wider debate on the structure of Local Government was already under way, the Society Committee took the view that this was an appropriate time to start such a local debate.

The topic was raised at the 2017 Society AGM which, after a thorough debate with contributions by Cllr Ian Bruce and Cllr Tony Ferrari, decided to ask the Committee to get further information on the implications of becoming a Parish Council, to allow a better informed debate. As a result the Committee entered into communication with Weymouth & Portland Borough, and then called an open village meeting on Saturday 24th June, with talks by the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Dorset Association of Parish & Town Councils and by Cllr Ian Bruce. This meeting was attended by just over 40 villagers, who at the end decided that they needed a more specific proposal, with a better analysis of the pros and cons, before any decision even on the principle could be reached. They left the matter with the Sutton Poyntz Society Committee.

The Committee, at its July meeting, came to the conclusion that, with the village busy on Neighbourhood Planning and with uncertainty about the way forward for the Local Government reorganisation, now is not the best time to be investigating such a difficult topic. As a Neighbourhood Forum, we will be able (once we have a Neighbourhood Plan in place) to request a Community Governance Review at the time of our choosing; the Committee concluded that it would be far better to wait to see what form the new Local Government takes in Dorset, and therefore what specific impact a Parish Council for Sutton Poyntz would have. The matter has therefore been shelved for the time being.

For further information on the Committee's deliberations, look at the Committee Minutes for February to July 2017. In the meantime, if you would like to respond to Weymouth & Portland's consultation on Local Government reorganisation, go to their website; you have until 1 September to submit representations.