It isn’t often that we fill the Hall on the Hill to the point of overflowing – but we certainly managed that for the Christchurch and East Dorset (CEDBC) Core Strategy presentation. Our apologies to those of you that had to stand and our thanks to Dave Barnes of CEDBC and Jackie Groves from DCC Children’s Services who dealt with Schools and Education and also to Councillors Colin Bungey, Fred Neale, Margaret Phipps and Sue Spittle for attending and answering questions. Also to all of you who took the trouble either in the meeting, or subsequently by e-mail, phone and stopping me in the street to say what a good meeting you thought it was – much appreciated.
On the website www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest changes” is a video of Jackie’s presentation so we won’t attempt to summarise it here except to say that it became clear that Marsh Lane is the only location being pursued for the new school. We were surprised to learn that the site had been earmarked for the building of a school many years ago and are now wonder if that played some part in it being removed from the core strategy as a potential site for housing. We’re going to hear a lot more about this we think in the coming months.
On other topics the local roads (Hurn Road-Fairmile-Bargates) are causing considerable problems and planned new housing developments can only worsen the situation. Since these roads can’t be widened and there is no hope of a Christchurch Relief Road within the foreseeable future we wonder if a one-way system might improve matters. Plans to improve the B3073 from Parley to Blackwater and the A338 from Blackwater to Cooper Dean have been around for some time and we detect a considerable level of cynicism about them actually coming to fruition.
Town Centre Development
We heard that the published strategy puts an emphasis on the heritage of Christchurch; that these are only initial proposals and feedback will be incorporated in the next stage - a report to local Councillors in November. We were reassured to learn that there will be future opportunities for you and me to comment.
The proposals include: the replacement of the Fountain Roundabout Underpass by a pedestrian crossing; a narrowing and resurfacing of the High Street (that perhaps could cause problems for the disabled); more cobbles in Church Street to discourage cars; a bigger two-tier car park at Waitrose; a new “heritage trail”; the possibility of new housing at such places as the Waitrose car park, the Beagle site and the golf course – including four-storey flats.
We have concerns about the lack of consultation prior to publication and the very short time (6th to 20th October) between publication and deadline for feedback. As ever, we would like to see more detail on how any or all of these plans will be paid for.
The X1 and X2 Buses
At the Thursday evening meeting a resident raised a series of questions about these bus services and Councillor Margaret Phipps undertook to do some research. Here’s what she found out:
All the buses referred to relate to Hampshire County Council and you can contact them direct- Colin Wright at email@example.com . Just like DCC, Hampshire is reviewing its current and future levels of expenditure and that includes bus subsidy. In my capacity as a Dorset County Councillor I can confirm that DCC will be told by Hampshire County Council about the final arrangements for services X1 and X2 in the near future. It is likely that any service changes will take place in January 2015.
The resident said that she was told that buses will be taken off before the end of the contract and that drivers will be laid off. I am told that as part of the new arrangements for services X1 and X2 the Lymington Depot may be closed and this is probably where drivers have been talking to the public about their futures. My contact in DCC does not think the final arrangements for the drivers have been made yet as they may well be offered employment elsewhere within Go South Coast Ltd group.
A lot of work is now underway. H Block has been knocked down and more than 100,000 bricks have been reclaimed for use on other projects. Old concrete will be crushed on site to create hard core. New boilers have been installed and staff changing rooms have been refurbished.
A “meet-and-greet” service directed vehicles and pedestrians to the correct location. Comments made by visitors have been used to improve the temporary signage.
Work will start soon on the foundations for the new GP Surgery and the Pharmacy. Connections to new water, gas and electricity supplies should occur in December.
Meeting with CBC Executive
We met with the CBC Executive and as usual had an interesting and informative meeting. You can read a full report of the meeting at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”. Topics covered included: the Police presence in Christchurch; the ongoing rationalisation of CBC and EDDC administrations; the financial situation; amongst other subjects.
Perhaps the most interesting was the Antisocial Behaviour Act, which we have talked about before in these newsletters. (For the benefit of new readers you can read the old newsletters by looking them up on the website www.wcresidents.co.uk) Although it duplicates some information already passed to you we have reproduced the whole of the note here.
This new legislation aims to be victim focussed and relates to the behaviour of businesses as well as any individual aged 10 or over. The legislation places an obligation upon CBC-EDDC to act and creates a statutory right of appeal that is available to any complainant who can demonstrate an apparent shortfall in the way their complaint has been administered. The effect of this is to move the responsibility for investigating claims away from the police and makes CBC-EDDC the responsible body. No extra funding has been provided to meet this new demand.
A complaint can arise from a variety of sources that include: persistent and regular noise; perpetual litter from an identifiable source such as a fast food outlet; failure to control pets; and so on. The Council must act after receiving three or more complaints within a six month period. The prime test to be applied in assessing a claim is one of “reasonableness”. Thus for example to complain about the noise from one party on New Year Eve is unreasonable; to complain about noise from parties that are held every weekend is not.
The Act contains provision for the victim to participate in the determination of the punishment. Thus a creator of graffiti could well be made to clean up what they have created.
Meeting With DCC Councillor Robert Gould
Robert Gould is the DCC Cabinet Member responsible for Budgets and we meet every 6 months or so to keep up to date with DCC financial progress. A full report of our meeting is at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”. It’s written in non-technical language.
Whilst CBC is projecting a revenue surplus of £169,000 in 2014-15 in contrast DCC is still working very hard to make ends meet. In summary, DCC Cabinet has authorised the future transfer of £5.3 million from reserves to ease a difficult situation that covers 2014 to 2017. This will reduce the Council’s general reserve to just over £13 million. The 2014-15 budget shortfalls are as ever caused by demand-led services: Children’s Services £3.1 million over-run; Adult and Community Services £3 million over-run.
The main causes are (a) the increase in numbers of children taken into care and (b) the rising cost of providing learning disability. The provision of such learning typifies what is happening. There are increasing numbers of young people with a learning disability living to be adults and an increasing proportion have complex support needs. The expectations of both young people and their carers are also increasing and therefore demand on DCC services overall is increasing.
The known necessary 2014-15 savings in other areas have been identified but one is struck by how hard managers have to work to “break even”. One must also not forget that UK Public Sector debt is still rising and is not forecast to peak until 2018-19 when it will stand at around £1548 billion. It is not fanciful to conceive of Central Government continuing to cut back on grants leaving Local Authorities to survive on Council Tax and increasingly income from such things as business rates and local investments.
With this in mind, DCC are cooperating with Bournemouth and Poole to better coordinate Local Enterprise Partnerships and have also decided to launch a Local Authority Trading Company in 2015. It is believed that this will be able to deliver some services in a more flexible and thus more cost efficient manner.
The Icelandic Funds situation has largely been resolved with nearly £1 million more recovered than was originally anticipated.
The local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team have teamed up with CBC, representatives from Home Watch and Smart Water to offer residents the opportunity to purchase Smart Water forensic property marking kits at a significantly reduced cost.
The event is being held on Saturday 15th November 2014 between 10am and 2pm at Christchurch Day Centre, Lymington Road (Next to Highcliffe Medical Centre). The kits will be £10 each and you will have a chance to speak to the team regarding Crime Prevention and protecting your property in the run up to Christmas.
Smart Water is a traceable liquid that is used to mark items of property. It contains a unique forensic code linking it to you, its owner. If you are not able to attend the event, but would like to purchase a kit, please contact PCSO 8896 Mark Lane at Christchurch Police Station on 101.
As you will have heard on the news or in the press, Navitus Bay has lobbed an unexpected rock into an already muddy pool by publishing a “Plan B” called a “Turbine Area Mitigation”. We asked Councillor Margaret Phipps to investigate on our behalf:
NBDL say that they are still pursuing their original application which is currently under Public Inquiry, but they say that the mitigation proposal provides the Secretary of State with the option of approving a reduced number of turbines if this is considered necessary as a matter of planning judgement. The alternative mitigation option reduces the maximum number of turbines from 194 to 105, and increases the separation of the turbine area from the coast by approximately 4 to 5 Km. It seems that the reduced scheme may have an impact on the onshore cable corridor, but this would have to be determined following further design work.
My opinion of this mitigation proposal is that it should not be considered as part of the current Inquiry process. The Planning Act 2008 says that there should be procedural fairness during Examination of an application. There are a record number of objectors to the scheme currently under Inquiry. It has been under consultation for approximately 2 years, which gave everyone an opportunity to study and research the potential impacts. By putting this second option forward as “mitigation”, NBDL is asking the Planning Inspectors to consider it alongside the current application.
This is very unfair to everyone, members of the public and organisations, who have put in a lot of time and effort to make representations on the current application, and who will now have no opportunity whatsoever to be consulted or give comment on the mitigation option. In addition, the Inquiry timetable has already been published, and it does not include any allocation of time for discussion of the new mitigation option. This will put an additional burden on both participants and the Inspectors at the Inquiry who are expected to discuss this new proposal at short notice.
Over 50’s Walking Football
Bournemouth Divisional Football Association are offering free taster session every Wednesday at 2-Riversmeet 10.30am to 11.30am or every Friday at Dorset Indoor Cricket Centre (Hurn Bridge Sports and Social Centre) 10am to 11am
Channel 4 Documentary
We have heard from Kimberly Godbolt of Channel 4:
We are working on a pilot documentary series for Channel 4, which will make an innovative dispute resolution process available to people with community, business, or family consumer disputes. With court fees having just risen significantly and small claims taking an average of 31 weeks to get a court date, we feel that it’s the perfect time to de-mystify the legal world and facilitate a new, efficient process for people wanting to sort out difficult disputes.
We are looking for parties considering court to go through this new process for our pilot. It could be related to anything but is best suited to cases where individuals, rather than large companies or organizations are involved.
The process will be authentic, legally-binding and free for the parties, and although it's being filmed, the pilot is not intended for broadcast.
You can contact Kimberly direct at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our membership is going to be slightly down this year compared to 2013. Whilst the prolonged good weather has played a part in that, the biggest single cause is a shortage of collectors.
If we haven’t managed to collect your £1 just reply to this e-mail and we’ll make arrangements to collect it or put £1 in an envelope, write your address on the front and deliver it to 7 Hurn Road (near the junction of Hurn Road, Fairmile and The Grove)
If you could assist in 2015 by collecting £1 from your neighbours do please get in touch