Councillors took ten minutes out to pose for a group picture after their first Dorset Council meeting this week in Dorchester.

The 82 seat unitary council for rural Dorset replaces six previous authorities – Dorset County Council, West Dorset, East Dorset, Weymouth & Portland, Purbeck and North Dorset – previously represented by more than 170 councillors. This alone is estimated to result in a saving of £400,000 a year in allowances and expenses.

Each of the new councillors will receive a basic allowance of £13,000 a year with additional payments for those who are chair or vice chairs of committees, or who sit on the council's executive cabinet. The council leader, Spencer Flower, from Verwood, will receive an allowance of £35,000 a year.

Out of the 82 seats for election on May 2, 25 were won by new councillors who were not members of the Shadow Dorset Council (comprised of all six previous authorities) and 57 seats were won by members who have previously served as a councillor in Dorset. There are 27 women on the new council and 55 men, meaning women make up 33 per cent of the new council.

Despite this only one of the ten cabinet seats, all of which are Conservatives, has gone to a woman.

Conservatives hold the balance of power on the council by a margin of four seats. Each of the ten Cabinet members will get an allowance of £22,000 a year, plus expenses.

The Cabinet members are -

Leader / Governance, Performance and Communications - Cllr Spencer Flower

Deputy Leader / Corporate Development and Change - Cllr Peter Wharf

Finance, Commercial and Assets - Cllr Tony Ferrari

Housing - Cllr Graham Carr-Jones

Economic Growth and Skills - Cllr Gary Suttle

Children, Education and Early Help - Cllr Andrew Parry

Adult Social Care and Health - Cllr Laura Miller

Planning - Cllr David Walsh

Highways, Travel and Environment - Cllr Ray Bryan

Customer, Community and Regulatory Services - Cllr Tony Alford