Important news on the hospital; background to CBC budget problems in 2013; Keeping CBC Head Office

February 2013

Question Time
Don’t forget our meeting on Thursday 28th February, 7.30pm in The Hall on the Hill, Marlow Drive. A panel comprising local Councillors and our Chairman Jim Biggin will answer questions from the audience.
Why not come along and ask a question and then have a cup of tea or coffee with us after the meeting ends? Or if you can’t get along e-mail us your question and we’ll ask it for you.
Before Question Time we will be introducing two new members of our committee as well as giving you a brief verbal report of what went on in 2013
The Second Anniversary
This Newsletter in its current form is two years old with this issue. It now goes to over 1,200 local homes. The same is true of the redesigned website. Remember, for a quick check on what has happened recently and click on “latest updates”.
(Not everything that happens is mentioned in these summary Newsletters. For example the Government has issued a new statement on its attitude to the preservation of forests. If you want to read it you’ll find it on the website and in the list of latest updates)
Christchurch Hospital
The Hospital Trust has resubmitted its plans for the redevelopment of our hospital.
Christchurch Hospital currently provides services including dermatology, rheumatology, the Macmillan Unit, Day Hospital and local services such as outpatient clinics and x-ray. It is virtually certain that some or all of these facilities will transfer elsewhere if the proposed redevelopment is again turned down.
The proposed scheme for the hospital will secure NHS services at Christchurch Hospital, improve the buildings the services are delivered in, bring on site expanded GP services, plus a pharmacy, provide NHS key worker accommodation, provide quality nursing home and assisted living accommodation and create over 80 new jobs.
The existing building (H block) at the front of the hospital will be demolished and replaced as part of these plans. This building has been empty for several years, is unfit for purpose and is not listed. To retain and convert it would cost £5m and would leave a building that would be less usable and more costly to run.
Alterations have been made to the original plan, including reducing the number of key worker homes and altering the design of buildings at the front of the building, which would replace H block, so that they are more sympathetic with what is currently there. For full details and click on “latest updates”
Please take a moment to register your views by sending an e-mail to:
Give your name and address and quote application numbers 8/13/0028 and 8/13/0029
All e-mails must be received by CBC on or before 27th February 
The all-important planning meeting is scheduled for Thursday 14th March at 6pm at Christchurch Civic Offices. It’s a public meeting so you can attend as a spectator if you wish.
Civic Offices
You may have spotted a headline to the effect that “CBC Civic Offices Are Saved”. That’s not strictly true. Officers have put forward an outline plan that has to be further developed as well as being approved by Councillors from both CBC and East Dorset.
We wondered why the outline plan didn’t envisage selling both Christchurch and Furzehill. Here’s what CBC told us:
Although the Christchurch Civic Offices are in need of some refurbishment and work to improve their thermal efficiency (to reduce energy costs) the East Dorset Furzehill Offices (just outside Wimborne) require a lot more work. 
The Allendale Community Centre in Wimborne is also in need of major refurbishment. A new Wimborne Civic Hub would avoid the Furzehill and Allendale refurbishment costs.
Our current estimates are that by using the Christchurch Civic Offices as the main partnership building, building a new Wimborne Civic Hub and selling Furzehill, the partnership will reduce its capital and revenue expenditure by £6.7m over the next 25 years.
We will be looking at all these costs in more detail and doing more work on the overall feasibility of the preferred option to check whether our preliminary assumptions are valid. This work will be complete by the end of 2013 and Members will then be in a position to make a decision on the way forward.
Don’t be too surprised if they eventually end up selling both sites.

CBC Budget 2013-14

On your behalf we attended a CBC budget consultation.  Head of Finance Ian Milner, who indicated that the budget round of 2013-14 had been “the most chaotic he had ever experienced as a result of Central Government behaviour” presented the following facts (a full copy of the CBC presentation and our notes about them can be found at and then “latest updates”). In summary:

UK debt is fast approaching £1 trillion; at the moment government receipts amount to £548 billion a year but they are spending £697 billion a year – a deficit of £149 billion a year that can only be funded by borrowing and thus increasing the national debt

As a part of addressing this problem Central Government has squeezed Local Government. As a result the grant to CBC will fall by £180,000 in 2013-14 and by a forecast £268,000 in 2014-15. This will be partly offset by allowing Local Authorities to retain a portion of business rates collected. There will in future therefore be a direct financial reward for attracting new businesses to the area.

There has been no increase in Council Tax in the last two years. Central Government is offering a one-off grant of £33,000 in 2013-14 if CBC freezes again. In addition there is an imposed cap of 2% on any increase.  By accepting the one-off grant and continuing the freeze CBC would be storing up trouble down the line because once the “one off” sweeteners are stopped there will be an inflation induced gap between expenditure and receipts. This could amount to £200,000 by 2017-18.

Navitus Bay Wind-farm

There have been some refinements to the plan which we won’t attempt to summarise but which you can read on the website

Marsh Lane – Bronte Avenue

We attended a meeting at Dorchester where road safety plans for Marsh Lane-Bronte Avenue were discussed following representation by the Marsh Lane Action Group. The DCC Committee was sympathetic to the problems and decided to follow up on the issue. As a result they will now conduct a full safety survey.

St Catherine’s Hill

Tree safety and other maintenance work will be carried out from 13th to 15th February (weather allowing). We do know that some trees have been badly damaged by the winter conditions, so expect some felling.

The Terms of Reference of the new Management Committee have been published and you can read them in full, where else but on the website and “latest updates”
Hope to see you on the 28th!!

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