A police message; selling the Civic Offices; those supermarkets

November 2012

Police Message
Recently a burglary was committed in Cross Way. The intruder reached through a cat flap and obtained the keys which were then used to open the door from the outside. If you have a cat or dog flap, don’t leave the keys in the door lock and make sure they are out of reach (and preferably hidden from sight)

New Police Tsar
Just a reminder that Thursday November 15th is the date upon which we elect the new police overlord. Our webmaster Eileen has managed to find a picture and a write up on all of the local candidates – go to www.wcresidents.co.uk click on latest updates then Dorset Police Commissioner at 24th September. The only one of the candidates who has talked to us is Nick King.

Potential Sale of Civic Offices
As promised last month we met with Council Leader Councillor Ray Nottage and Chief Executive David McIntosh to discuss this on-going review, the purpose of which is to explore the current costs of office overheads in both Christchurch and East Dorset (Furzehill).

This is a vitally important matter and we have therefore given you a full account of the meeting.

Councillor Ray Nottage stressed that no matter what the outcome of the investigations the sovereignty of both CBC and East Dorset would be preserved. They would remain two separate legal entities albeit potentially administered from one common location.

Both Councillor Ray Nottage and David McIntosh confirmed that the driving force behind the investigation is the over-riding need to reduce the overheads of administration before the 2014-15 financial year. Thanks primarily to actions taken by Central Government both Councils face a huge potential reduction in revenue of up to 45% whilst only effectively being allowed to increase Council Tax by up to 2% per annum.

Increases in revenue, such as car parking charges, could only partially cover the income shortfall. This means that unless overheads are reduced some Council services would have to be modified, reduced or stopped completely.

The two main types of overhead that dominate Council expenditure are staff costs and the costs of maintaining premises. CBC and East Dorset are now about 50% of the way through their previously announced programme for amalgamating staff teams and thereby gaining economies of scale. Once that programme is complete, there will still be the need to continue to review functions and work methods.

That inevitably now throws the spotlight upon the costs of premises. The two buildings, at Bridge Street and Furzehill, together cost £600,000 per annum to run. This cost can only increase since both buildings have reached an age at which considerable expenditure is required to maintain them. This means that any solution to the cost and revenue problems facing both Councils that involve staying in their current buildings is unlikely to be adequate to the task. It follows that some different jointly occupied premises situated at an as yet unknown site is a logical option to explore.

The need to provide a local representation for both Councils where officers could interface with members of the public is a requirement for both Councils although the exact form and location of that representation has not yet been planned. Its proper functioning would depend heavily upon an underlying technical IT framework.

David McIntosh felt it important to stress that it might not be possible to arrive at a workable, cost effective, arrangement that would be acceptable to Councillors as representatives of local residents. However, if the Council cannot reduce its costs through efficiencies the implications would almost certainly involve the withdrawal of some Council services. The current aim is to maintain current services at their present level but ultimately this objective would have to be sacrificed if no other way could be found of meeting financial responsibilities.

No formal proposal has yet been formalised. It is hoped to place recommendations in front of Councillors before the spring of 2013 with actions agreed in time for the budget round of autumn 2013. There will be consultation with stakeholders (at which we will represent you) but they must recognise the overriding financial issues involved and the comparatively short period of time available to properly address those issues.

The Proposed New Supermarkets
The Morrison’s site at Stony Lane was again turned down because: it would result in a loss of industrial land; the design of the building was contrary to local design policy; the supermarket would have had an adverse impact upon the viability of the town centre; the proposed complex would have generated too much noise.

The Bailey Bridge application was granted. It has now been referred to the Secretary of State for ratification due to the size and type of development (Town and Country Planning Consultation – England – Direction 2009). We are told this is just a formality, but it sits ill with all the guff we have been fed about “Localism”

Marsh Lane and the Core Strategy
The controversial proposal to build houses by the Avon at the back of Marsh Lane has been dropped from the Core Strategy – a great result for the action group and everybody else who helped to fight that unacceptable development.

The latest draft of the strategy can be seen at the Civic Offices and you have until 21st December 2012 to respond on the official form. Those interested in Druitt Hall should note that at page 6 the previous schedule relating to a new community centre has been deleted and replaced by the statement to the effect that CBC no longer has an aspiration to provide such a facility.

St Catherine’s Hill Trees
The first minutes of the new management committee on which we represent you are on the website. Go to www.wcresidents.co.uk go to latest updates and click on the link at 11th November

Domestic WCRA News
Thanks to everybody who attended the public meeting (the hall was packed) and to local councillors for responding to questions.

Our membership this year again exceeds 1,800 homes – a real tribute to our collectors who had the most difficult time any of us can remember thanks to the vagaries of our weather

The paper based Autumn Newsletter was distributed to our members who don’t receive this electronic newsletter thanks to our team of volunteers – we would be lost without them

Copyright © 2012 West Christchurch Residents Association, All rights reserved.
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