Half term report from local councillors; the town centre; etc.

October 2014

Don’t Forget That Presentation
Hall on the Hill, Marlow Drive, Thursday 30th October at 7.30pm. CBC Strategic Director David Barnes will talk about our schools, our roads, the town centre, etc. Your local Councillors will also be there to hear your views and answer your questions.
On the topic of schools
It’s now in the public domain that DCC have been negotiating to purchase land between Marsh Lane and the Avon to build a new school. If they are successful we envisage a lot of resistance from residents. If they fail – we still desperately need a new school. A real Gordian knot!
Half Term Report
October is halfway through the financial year. We shall be meeting CBC Executive Directorate and DCC Finance shortly – our report will appear next month – but before that we asked your local representatives to give their reflections on the year-to-date. The only constraint we placed on them was no overtly political content. Here’s what those who chose to contribute had to say (in alphabetic order of surname!)
Half Term Report - Cllr Colin Bungey
The past six months have in many ways been very revealing, having asked in full council about staff morale and been assured by the leader and chief executive there were no problems the very damming staff survey was published.  It seems to me that some members and senior management fail to realise that a poorly motivated and unhappy staff do not perform their duties as well as we would normally expect, this impacts on both residents expecting good service and on members being able to work effectively for the Borough.  This situation has yet to be resolved.
Many departments within the council appear to be struggling to perform effectively, Planning as we see from the media coverage has major problems, the Parks and Open Spaces Dept. withdrew from Britain in bloom this year owing to lack of staff and many residents on Housing Benefit and other benefits are having to wait weeks for their applications to be processed. 
All this and other issues concern me and should concern all members of Christchurch and East Dorset Councils as well as residents.  Perhaps the question to be asked is, in the pursuit of making savings have we cut too deeply and too quickly?  We should remember that just over two years ago Christchurch Council was rated as one of the best performing councils in the South West!
The next eight months up to May 2015 and election time will be an interesting period. There are many problems to be resolved if we are to return to the status of a high performing council and it is down to all members to work together to try and resolve those issues .  Even if there were a change in government in 2015 there is very little chance of Local Government funding improving and we all have to face the fact that more and more of the funding burden for local services will be put on local councils and the council tax payer.   
Half Term Report - Cllr Margaret Phipps
Because of her Dorset County responsibilities Councillor Phipps has had a very busy six months. She has kindly produced a full report which you can find at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”. Topics covered include, amongst other things:  a commentary upon the proper maintenance of the grassy areas within the Borough including the grass verges; a note on the “Ask Dorset” Campaign; something on Navitus Bay; an update on a project associated with Hurn Forest.

She’s also responsible for working with The Dorset Waste Partnership which is currently conducting a consultation https://www.dorsetforyou.com/street-cleaning/consultation

Half Term Report - Cllr Sue Spittle - St Catherine’s Hill and Town Common Management Plan Update
As so many of you know, the best laid plans do not always materialise, especially where management plans are concerned.

Originally it was hoped that the work which would be selective tree felling work taking place on site from October this year, for around 3 weeks. Once started, part of these works will be taking place at the north end of the site on relatively steep slopes where access was very poor.

To keep the site as clear as possible and to speed recovery, and to avoid too much traffic on the hill across sensitive heathland areas and along the bridleway, a temporary access route has been prepared at the north end of the site, entering the Hill from Hurn Road. Once the work has been completed the access will be gated to prevent unauthorised vehicle access. This may be used for four-wheel drive vehicles in the event of emergencies, particularly summer fires, in an area normally very difficult to access, which residents in Hestan Close/Foreland Close may recall.

The license from the Forestry commission was granted on 12th September 2014, but not without problems. Errors on the actual document concerning the volume of timber were discovered by Robin Harley of CBC’s Countryside team and eventually fourth issue was correct.

The preferred contractor, who had been chosen due to experience with working on amenity sites used by the general public, is now unable to start work as planned due to other work over-running. With the help of Chris Gordon WCRA’s representative on the Steering Group new contractors are being sought. In the meantime the team will aim to continue with small scale works in-house to make the most of the good conditions.

The Management Plan Steering Committee will be meeting shortly once responses from contractors have been obtained. Should you want any further information concerning the proposed works please do not hesitate to contact either myself or the Countryside Service on 01425 2727479.

Half Term Report - Cllr Sue Spittle - St Catherine’s Hill Community Hall (Hall on the Hill)
I am pleased to report that the Hall’s Committee are in the process of planning a new programme for 2015.Next year we are increasing our highly popular quizzes to four. Also in addition to two social events we are planning more children’s events and also interesting talks on a variety of subjects including the Red Arrows and Brownsea Island. Please look out for the posters around the area advertising these events. If you are aware of any interesting speakers who would be willing to come to the Hall please let me know.

Forthcoming events are a Quiz on Saturday 18th October and a Children’s Halloween Party on Friday 31st October. Tickets are available through the Hall’s website - www.hallonthehill.org.uk, or at Phil the Print or the St Catherine’s Laundrette.

Half Term Report - Retiring Public Governor Sue Bungey – Christchurch Hospital
Governors at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals have been working hard over the last 6 months with patients and members of the public.   There have been public meetings and presentations throughout the area covered by our two hospitals. 

Governors have also been heavily involved in ward audits following the very disappointing report the Hospital received from the CQC in October last year.  This has resulted in huge changes to way the Hospital is run together with major changes to the elderly patient wards. 

There have also been management structure changes to the Executive Board including the appointment of Richard Renaut as Chief Operating Officer.  Many of you will know Richard from when he came to speak on several occasions to the WCRA.  His links with the community will have a very positive impact on the way the two hospitals move forward.

The next six months will see a second report from the CQC on their follow-up visit to the Hospital in August and everyone is looking forward to a more positive report this time around which I am sure will be the case.

Some of you may have seen that I have now stood down as a Public Governor after just over 9 years.  The Constitution allows for three three-year terms if re-elected.  The Hospital has been a big part of my life for the last few years and whilst I will miss the contact with the Hospital and the community I do feel it is now time for new Governors to take us forward.  We are, I believe extremely fortunate to have such a high performing hospital in our community and I do hope residents will continue to support their Governors and the Trust as they strive towards excellence in all services.  Lastly thank you to all those residents who have supported and voted for me over the last 9 years.

Local Crime

We continue to hear distressing stories from residents about a lack of response by our local police to crimes they have reported. These include airgun shots aimed at windows that have been reported but no officer has attended the residence some weeks later – despite promises of prompt attention.

We also hear of thefts resulting from backdoor keys left under stones or windows left open providing easy access. Please folks, don’t make life easy for the opportunist.

The police tell us that a telephone scam is being attempted across Dorset. The victim receives a phone call out of the blue from a caller who poses as a police officer from London. The caller convinces the victim to make a withdrawal from their account, usually by stating they have someone in custody and believe that the victim’s bank account has been compromised. The victim withdraws the money which is in then collected by an innocent courier or taxi driver who is not aware of the contents of the package. The courier takes the money to London where they usually hand the package to a person in the street.

Please hang up immediately if you believe you are being targeted by this scam and ring 101 to report the matter to Dorset Police. If possible, ring 1471 when ending the call and obtain the telephone number of the last caller.

Navitus Bay

CBC Councillors have voted unanimously to object to the proposed wind farm application by Navitus Bay. At a specially-convened meeting of the full council, members were presented with a Local Impact Report which detailed the key issues affecting the Borough of Christchurch. These included the impact on the characteristics of the local coastal, rural, urban and marine landscapes arising from offshore developments as well as the visual impact of the wind farm. Onshore issues included the impact on landscape character and on designated habitats associated with the proposed cable route. Members agreed that the Local Impact Report be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

Our ACRA letter of objection can be seen on the website www.wcresidents.co.uk  and click on “latest updates”

Essential Overnight Tree Works
Essential tree surgery works are to be undertaken along the A35 Christchurch Bypass between 19:00 hrs and 07:00 hrs on the 4th and 6th November 2014. This will involve the felling of several large storm-damaged pines and the pruning of tree canopies that overhang the bypass.
And Advance Notice
DCC has recently undertaken an inspection of the trees along The Grove. Following this inspection it is clear that there is a need to undertake a considerable amount of work to the mature oak trees along this road. When we have more details we’ll pass them on to you.

Development of our Town Centre

The exhibition of possibilities for enhancing Christchurch Town Centre was held in the Mayor’s Parlour during early October. The theme of the exhibition is ‘The heritage of Christchurch’. There are proposed new pathways around the Priory, Castle, Constable’s House, and changes to some road and pavement surfaces to make the High Street more ‘pedestrian friendly’.

The proposals include building blocks of four storey flats on car parks, plus a multi storey car park and flats on the Waitrose car park, closing the underpass and forcing residents and visitors to negotiate a new crossroads at the fountain roundabout.  There are also proposals to narrow the High Street and we all know how congested the high street gets when more than one bus is present

The changes will be paid for by some new ‘brownfield’ site developments. We were intrigued to see the Beagle (Morrissons) site as one possibility.

Comments on the proposals have to be submitted by 20 October, to find out more about the proposals go to https://www.dorsetforyou.com/christchurch-town-centre-strategy and make your views known.

Travel to the Town Centre on Sundays 

Age Concern Christchurch is considering providing a limited service using their minibus on a Sunday. To enable this to proceed they need more volunteer drivers with the appropriate driving license – obtained before 1st January 1997. If you could spare a few hours on a Sunday say once a month, please contact us and we will be pleased to pass your details on to the Transport Manager. The more drivers there are the more services Age Concern can provide.

Friends of St Catherine’s Hill History Day 2015
Many of you will recall the spectacular History Day last September organised by FSCH. This is a biennial event and they are beginning to make plans for next year’s History Day. As the Hill was used as training for trench warfare, members of FSCH would like to hear from anyone who may have any articles, artefacts, recipes, clothing or anything else relating to that era. Please see the website www.fsch.org.uk for information regarding forthcoming events.

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