COUNTY: The leader of Dorset County Council has warned fellow members that money will be spent on ‘external expertise’ as the council enters a transformation phase.

Cllr Spencer Flower told a full council meeting the authority was taking a new approach to its way of dealing with continued funding cuts through its Forward Together programme.

He said the focus would not be about what cuts can be made to existing budgets and services, rather how the council can run things differently and more efficiently to ensure it is in the right shape moving forward.

Cllr Flower said: “We are going to get less money year on year and it would be quite wrong in my view to rely on the old approach of just top slicing budgets.”

The leader said that council spending on consultants had attracted negative attention in the past but he insisted that some money would need to be spent on the use of experts to help the authority transform and run more efficiently.

He also told members that no money would be spent on projects that would not bring overall savings to the council.

He said these would all be monitored closely to see if they are achieving what they set out. Cllr Flower said: “It does need some external expertise we don’t possess.

“We have not quite got into some people’s minds that it is about using experts to help us change the way we do things.”

Cllr Flower also said that he had been delighted with the success of the Ask Dorset public engagement exercise, which had involved more than 30 public roadshows around the county that had canvassed the opinion of over 6,000 people on what council services were important to them.