Local Policing; Local Roads; Local Schools; etc

July 2014

July 2014

Welcome to new readers who are joining us all the time. The Newsletter is backed up by the website www.wcresidents.co.uk where you will find greater background detail on most of these topics.

We’re a little earlier than usual this month as the holiday season gets into full swing later in the month

Local Policing

You may recall that in May we wrote to Police Commissioner Martyn Underhill about the closure of Christchurch Police Station and related matters. As usual we had to chase for a reply but eventually a response was forthcoming (slightly edited to assist comprehension):

With regard to future policing arrangements, I can confirm that Christchurch patrol officers will be relocated to Ferndown Police Station from the 1 October 2014 as part of a 12 month trial to assess the operational effectiveness of combining with East Dorset patrol officers.  

Following reductions in police officer numbers in 2012 it has been necessary to review the way we are organised whilst achieving further cost reductions. Whilst officers are locally deployed, the centralised control room moves officers in response to local demand and relocates patrols to where they are currently needed. This way of working has been used successfully for 18 months.

We remain committed to local policing, with a presence in every town, and the Safer Neighbourhood Team will remain within Christchurch providing a visible, accessible, familiar local presence. Safer Neighbourhood Teams will also adjust their working hours to provide additional cover to patrol officers at key times.  

Christchurch and East Dorset patrol have already developed the sharing of radio channels and staff. Working together provides a more efficient use of shared resources enabling the Force to benefit from economies of scale, improved supervision, communication and efficient use of the vehicle fleet. We are also exploring new technologies as a means of enabling remote working and to increase officers’ presence within the local community.    

On the specific issue of CCTV provision, CCTV at Christchurch is owned, staffed and maintained by Christchurch Borough Council. The changes in Dorset Police arrangements from 1 October will not have any bearing on the current arrangements, which will only become an issue as and when the Christchurch Police Station building is disposed of.  

As you would expect, a number of different options for a new Safer Neighbourhood Team base in Christchurch are currently being explored, including the potential for a joint initiative with the Council. Ultimately, however, it will be for the local authority to decide upon the relocation of CCTV provision in the future should the need arise. More generally, I would also like to reassure you that we have been exploring options for enhancing CCTV coverage across the whole of Dorset and discussions remain ongoing with key partners as to how this may be achieved. 

Notwithstanding the ongoing challenges to finance and resources, Christchurch continues to see falling crime with improving investigations providing an increase in positive outcomes for victims.   

 Local Roads

The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership has signed an agreement with the Government for £66.3 million of investment in the county. A key part of the plan will see the revamp of part of the A338 and its connection to the airport and its business parks – the B3073 via Hurn; quite what this means for Hurn Road – Fairmile (also the B3073) into Christchurch we can only imagine.

In October (Thursday 30th at 7.30pm) CBC are going to give a presentation at our next public meeting on the topic of the recently adopted Strategic Plan and we have asked them to concentrate upon (a) the future impact on the B3073 (b) local schooling (c) impact upon the Town Centre (d) the financial environment and how conflict between the needs of the plan and the need to function within available funds will be resolved.

Local Schools

We have still heard nothing from DCC about their long winded negotiations with an unnamed land owner to acquire a site upon which to build a new school. In the interim, DCC has announced that whilst one temporary classroom is already in use at Christchurch Infants School a second will be added to the site so that a new reception group can start in September 2014. Also, at least £1 million pounds will be put towards alleviating the school place crisis in Christchurch utilising space at Twynam School.

None of this suggests to us that the secret negotiations are proving particularly fruitful!

Navitus Bay Wind Farm

A record number of around 2,700 people and organisations (including us as part of ACRA) have registered as Interested Parties to the Navitus Bay wind farm application.  The vast majority of the responses raise objections and demonstrate the high degree of local concern over this proposal. You can view all of the responses by clicking here.  It can take quite a long time, but some of the outline representations are worth reading and you will recognise a lot of local names.

Those Grass Verges

After a lot of comment from various quarters (including a correspondent known to you suggesting that seeing small men in loin cloths carrying spears camping along the side of roads was not the ideal visitor introduction to Christchurch) we got our verges cut. We also received a comment from DCC Councillor Robert Gould – the man responsible for controlling the budget.

On the sensitive issue of verge cutting, we recognise that the budget reduction introduced a couple of years ago was not the right approach. In the next edition of our newsletter "Your Dorset", Spencer Flower (WCRA note - Council Leader) will recognise this. We have made available additional funding to tackle the problem this year and we will be working to find a better solution in the future with a panel chaired by Councillor Margaret Phipps. We recognise the appearance of our towns is a high priority.

Just to remind you, DCC is still looking to save £43.3 million in next 3 years. In 2013-14: Children’s Services overspend was £917,000 (caused by an increase in children in care); Adult Services overspend was £470,000 (caused by an increase in residential care for older people); the overspends were offset by underspends in such things as legal costs, computers, road maintenance

We have also had it confirmed that DCC has received £5.8 million under Severe Weather Recovery Scheme and £3.1 million from the pothole fund. 23 sites have been resurfaced with 46 more already planned

Road Works on B3073 (Hurn Road)

We have heard from DCC as follows:

We are contacting you with further information regarding the remaining tree works along Hurn Road. As you know, not all of the proposed tree works have been completed due to major issues with traffic management (the sheer volume of traffic using this road).

Having had lengthy debate with DCC and our tree surgery contractors, it has been decided that the only way of completing these essential highway safety works is for our contractors to work during the evening. DCC will not allow us to carry out these tree works during the normal working day because of the traffic issues and effects on the emergency services on this very busy main road into Christchurch. 
The tree works are to be started at 15.00 each day in the service road and will switch to the main road from 19:00 finishing at midnight every evening from Monday 14th to Friday 18th July.

Hidden away in there is a key admission – Hurn Road is a very busy road. DCC have never admitted that before!

Christchurch Hospital

A message from the governors:

As governors we are pleased that the first phase of the work at Christchurch Hospital has been completed and are looking forward to the next phase of the development. You can find more about what is happening at Christchurch Hospital in the latest fact sheet on the Trust's website by following this link: Securing Christchurch Hospital Fact sheet June 2014

We remain very suspicious about what has gone on here and await developments

This and That

For those of you with children and grandchildren to look after during the holiday period, Summer Blast 2014 can be downloaded from www.dorsetforyou.com/summer-blast, or is available by emailing:  jwhelan@christchurchandeastdorset.gov.uk.

Blood donors are needed – go to Local NHS Facilities

A car was vandalized a couple of weeks ago outside a house in Hurn Road. It happened in the afternoon. Some form of stripper was used causing a lot of grief and expense.  We’re used to opportunistic petty theft but this is something new – let’s hope it’s a one-off

There will only be an August Newsletter if something dramatic happens as a seat in the sun with a bottle of Chablis beckons.
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