|A Date For Your Diary
Thursday 31st October. The Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill will be addressing our public meeting at 7.30pm in The Hall On The Hall, Marlow Drive. You can also meet your local councillors and we will give a brief update on what we’ve been up to on your behalf. Free tea and coffee will be available after the meeting.
Dealing With A Major Road Traffic Accident
You may recall that when we met Martyn Underhill he told us that:
The control of traffic whilst a major accident scene closes a road is the responsibility of DCC and not the police. (He also acknowledged that communication between the police and DCC could be improved. He also felt that both parties could learn lessons from the manner in which The Met manages such situations without causing anything like the level of chaos that results in parts of Dorset).
During September we took a trip down to Dorchester and met with the DCC Highway Officers. We had previously acquainted them with the above statement. They were somewhat perplexed and said this assertion of DCC responsibility is misleading. It is the police who manage the scene of an accident with DCC acting as facilitators of equipment under the direction of the police.
In the course of discussion we learned that typically the emergency services are the first to arrive at an RTA. It is the job of the police to assess the situation and to decide upon a course of action. They may or may not advise DCC of the accident. If the police require such things as cones, temporary traffic lights, or special detergent they will ask DCC to facilitate such provision. It is the responsibility of the police to decide that diversions are required and eventually that the scene of an RTA can be returned to normal and that the road can be reopened.
So who wants to ask Martyn Underhill about that on Thursday 31st?
Budgetary Constraints And Our Roads
We have previously indicated that DCC has to face up to some quite severe financial problems. By way of illustration, we thought we would try to establish the situation as it relates to our roads.
Like every other area of DCC operation, the roads budgets are under considerable strain. Since 2007/08, funding for routine highway maintenance has decreased consistently and this has coincided with an increase in extremes of weather. As a result we have seen a significant increase in highway defects such as pot-holes.
As a result of underfunding over several years sensible planned operations are now at a minimum because the vast majority of defects have to be repaired in an inefficient and expensive knee-jerk reactive manner.
The current cost of returning the network to an acceptable level has been calculated to be around £223 Million spread over 10 years and this figure is increasing year on year because of consistent under investment.
In some instances it is actually becoming difficult to maintain statutory obligations. The situation has now been reached where if something is not a safety defect there are no spare funds available to fix it.
This is serious and we hope to discuss it with DCC later this year.
Bus services across Dorset are under threat because DCC has to save money and can’t continue to subsidise transport to the extent that it currently does.
Both we and Dorset Councillor Margaret Phipps have received many letters, e-mails and phone calls from residents, all of whom are concerned about the proposed loss of the No. 21 bus along Fairmile, St. Catherine’s Hill and River Way. In response to those concerns, Councillor Phipps arranged a meeting in Dorchester in late September with the County Council Officers who are dealing with this matter and then everybody met representatives from Yellow Buses. They have agreed to consider a new proposal so that we can retain a No. 21 service with an amended timetable.
The proposal is that on Monday to Saturday the No. 21 will run the same return route as it does now, from Burton via Christchurch/Fairmile/River Way to Bournemouth Hospital, where it will stop. Those wishing to travel on to Boscombe or Bournemouth will have to change there on to another bus either at Iford or Bournemouth Hospital. This service will run roughly on a 70 minute cycle, from approximately 7am until 7pm.
A full timetable will be produced once the service is agreed. Councillor Phipps has asked the Bus Company to consider evening and Sunday services, which they are doing. If this new service is agreed, it will commence early 2014 as a replacement for the current No. 21 service.
In addition, there is a new schedule for the No. 111 service, Highcliffe to Castlepoint return, which Yellow Buses have already decided to operate from 3rd November 2013. This service will operate 4 times per day starting at Highcliffe, then going to Christchurch High Street. As it runs along the Fairmile, it will include a loop via Bronte Avenue, Marsh Lane and Suffolk Avenue, which is a new addition to benefit the residents in that area. It will then include Hurn Road, Marlow Drive, Hillside Drive and River Way before its final stop at Castlepoint.
Therefore from 3rd November, the areas of St. Catherine’s, Jumpers and Portfield will have an improved bus service for some roads. A copy of the route and timetable for the No. 111 service will be available shortly on www.mybus.co.uk (click on maps and fares), or alternatively at www.wcresidents.co.uk
The above is a brief summary of what we hope the new bus services will be and we must thank Councillor Phipps for trying to ensure that local residents continue to receive a reasonable bus service. She will be representing us at the County Council Cabinet meeting on 6th November. Please remember that nothing will be certain before the agreement of the Cabinet on that date.
News From Bournemouth Airport
We know that some of our concerns over the drop-off charge are shared by the Bournemouth Tourism Board, DCC and Hurn Parish Council.
Our Airport representative is John Mather from Highcliffe RA and he has again raised the issue with Airport Management. He has been assured that no-one wants the charge but that it continues to be a necessity in the present economic climate but that the Airport will dispense with it as soon as is possible.
In its last financial year the Airport had earnings before tax and depreciation of £2 million. Passenger numbers at 670,000 were below budget. Overall performance against budget was described as “reasonable” with some cost savings achieved.
There has been no decision on the potential siting of the Police helicopter at the Airport
Manchester Airport Group continue to stress to Central Government that the Airport has unused capacity and that this should be utilised in future plans
The Local NHS
A lot has been said this year about our local hospital and our NHS services. Of course this has all taken place against a background of reorganisation initiated by Central Government. We decided we didn’t really understand what all this change is supposed to achieve but were lucky enough to come across an explanatory video. Click on www.wcresidents.co.uk and then Local NHS Facilities on the left hand side. Then click on “An alternative guide to the new NHS in England”. All may (or possibly may not) become crystal clear!
Our Local Schools
Now that the new school term has started, we asked DCC Councillor Margaret Phipps if she could let us know the current state of play in providing enough places in our local schools. Here’s what she told us:
The last update which I gave you was that an additional classroom was being added to Christchurch Infants School to provide 30 extra places for children starting school in September 2013. That classroom is in place and running well, with all of the West Christchurch children who wished to take up a place, having done so.
The next step will be in spring 2014 when a second additional classroom for 30 children will be added to the Infants School for the 2013 class to move into for their second year of education (whilst the original classroom will then be available for a new influx of West Christchurch children who start school in September 2014).
These two additional classrooms will provide much needed first and second year education facilities so that children can attend school in their local area. The next challenge will be to ensure onward school provision by September 2015, and I asked the County Council Children Services Department to tell us what is happening. They tell me that options are being explored and that consultation will take place early in 2014 on specific proposals.
Particular thanks must go to Councillor Phipps, the Headmistress, her Staff, and the County Council plus of course the local residents who wouldn’t accept the previous far from satisfactory situation.
Don’t Forget - Thursday 31st October
Look forward to seeing you at the meeting!