Last year Dorset Police invested your money in a system called Dorset Alert. The simple idea was to quickly inform local residents by e-mail of crimes committed in their area and to ask for their help in catching crooks. You can enrol yourself at https://www.dorsetalert.co.uk/
For some time we, and other local Residents Associations, have not been too impressed by the manner in which Dorset Police utilise this service. For example, the following is taken from the Dorset Police website:
At around 2.15am on Friday 19 December 2014, a male offender gained access to the front of Nisa Store in Marlow Drive. A large quantity of tobacco was stolen. The offender wore a large jacket with a reflective white line across the back. Police Constable Pete Simpson, of Christchurch police, said: “We know the offender took a large black bag and used this to carry the stolen items. “I would like to encourage anyone who may have seen a man wearing similar clothing to that described, or may have seen someone acting suspiciously in the area of Marlow Drive in the early hours of Friday 19 December 2014, to contact me.
Was anything sent out on Dorset Alert? No it wasn’t! Did Dorset Police ask us to contact you –no they didn’t!
Similar things have happened in other parts of Christchurch so before Christmas our umbrella organisation ACRA, contacted Dorset Police, drew their attention to the problem and asked for an explanation. Then in January the following appeared both in the Echo and and on the Dorset Police website:
At 8.57pm on Wednesday 31 December 2014, a man entered Tesco Express on Barrack Road and walked into the warehouse and staff room. A number of personal items belonging to members of staff were stolen. Police Constable Chris Vaughan, of Christchurch police, said: “Following my investigations I am now in a position to release CCTV images of the suspect. I am urging anyone who recognises this man to please get in contact with me. All calls will be dealt with in strict confidence.”
However, nothing appeared on Dorset Alert! This of course all represents a considerable waste of our money. We have again alerted Dorset Police and await some action on their part.
One thing we did hear about from Dorset Alert is some rogue traders going door to door looking for gardening work, property maintenance, etc. They call themselves D A Gardening. One is a woman in her 40s with long brown hair in a ponytail. The other is a stocky man in his 20s with a crewcut and wearing a florescent vest.
2014 Crime Figures
Overall in West Christchurch there has been an increase in recorded crime of 7.5%. There were 416 recorded crimes in 2013 and 447 in 2014. Portfield figures are up by 9% to 146; Jumpers up by 25% to 120; but St Catherine’s and Hurn show a decrease of 2.7% to 181
Across the area we had: 25 burglaries from houses, an increase of 25%; 40 from sheds and garages, a drop of 26%; 73 assaults, an increase of 43%; 70 acts of criminal damage, a drop of 4%; 48 thefts from unattended cars, a decrease of 25%
Thefts from unattended cars were a PACT priority throughout 2014 and that appears to have paid off. The crimes that we are still getting are where vehicles are being left unlocked overnight on roads and driveways. The continuing police advice is to remove valuables and lock vehicles.
If you want to read the whole report and see pictures of all our local police officers go to www.wcresidents.co.uk and either click on “latest updates” or “Dorset Police”.
On there you’ll also find a link to a public consultation being conducted by Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner into future funding levels for the police (called Police Precept Consultation). Have your say, bearing in mind all that you’ve read so far!
Local Authority Finance Settlement 2015-16
You may have heard a Government spokesman informing us that there will be an overall reduction of just 1.8% in Local Council spending power in 2015-16. We’ve been misled by such global statistics before and so set out to ascertain the actual position for Christchurch and East Dorset.
For both Christchurch and East Dorset the reduction in Revenue Support Grant will be 30% (from £2,400,000 to £1,678,000). Strategic Director Dave Barnes said:
We have planned for the scale of these reductions in our Medium Term Financial Strategy so although we are still able to maintain balanced budgets the scale of the financial situation facing both Councils is still extremely challenging. Just to be clear our Revenue Support Grant funding is being cut by 30% which is much higher than the average for Local Government and the Government's own (global) figure.
We also asked Dorset Council Leader Councillor Robert Gould for his thoughts. Here’s what he said:
The size of the cut was almost exactly what DCC had anticipated and has already been built into the forward projections, which therefore do not change. Savings required in 2015-16 remain at £17 million; 2016-17 £15.7 million; 20176-18 £13.9 million; making £46.6 million in total
The picture is made more complex once one adds in the new method of treating business rates, income from solar farms, the new homes bonus, and so on – the full impact of which is not yet clear. All in all we predict a rise of 1.95% in Council Tax for 2015-16
Quality of care in our Hospitals
Like everywhere else, our hospitals have experienced considerable pressure on their services this year; the demand on A &E was up 24% on the previous year. On Sunday 28 December Dorset ambulance service coped with 35% more work than the equivalent Sunday last year. We have been told that some patients were referred to RBH from Poole Hospital to help. To quote from them
Our staff have worked exceptionally hard to ensure our hospital remains safe and open for those requiring emergency treatment and we would like to thank them for their considerable efforts at this difficult time. We have implemented a number of measures to help us cope with demand, such as qualified nurses who don’t usually work on wards being re-deployed to assist ward teams. Additional pressure is put on us with delayed discharges and transfers of care, and we currently have 35 patients who are medically fit to go home but are still in a hospital bed for a variety of reasons.
Please keep a close eye on elderly relatives and neighbours and make sure they are keeping warm, eating and drinking well and staying healthy.
Proposed School at Marsh Lane
From DCC we have obtained a map showing the catchment area for the new school. Click on www.wcresidents.co.uk and then “latest updates”. This is important for anybody trying to find an alternative site as any proposed plot of land must lie within the catchment area.
We have been liaising with Dorset Councillor Margaret Phipps and are hoping to meet with DCC Officers to discuss this project
St Catherine’s Hill Management Plan
CBC Countryside Officer Robin Harley reports on the current state of the plan:
Tree felling is now complete at the south end and in the centre of the site. However, removal of logs and other woody debris is still ongoing in most areas. This will continue in the New Year. There are also two remaining felling areas at the north-west end of the site, which will be started in January and which will require specialist timber extraction. Access to these areas will be directly from Hurn Road.
To minimise impacts on local residents, all material has been removed from site, either as logs or as woodchip. To enable this process, it has been necessary to have a large number of concentrated vehicle movements in and between work areas. This has obviously had an impact on track surfaces, which will require some time to fully recover.
Repair work to the main tracks did take place on Friday 19 December, to improve the situation over the Christmas break. Please take care when using the tracks in these areas. We are working to ensure that things return to normal, as soon as is practicably possibly. Thank you for your understanding and patience, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.
WCRA Comment: please remember that management of woodland involves some felling; only benign neglect involves none.
The Planned Roeshot Hill Quarry
We have been aware for some years that it was likely that Hampshire County Council would allow gravel workings at Roeshot Hill and that DCC were likely to follow suit. They are not yet at the planning application stage, but if/when extraction starts there will be large number of lorry movements (60-70 per 10-hour working day, most coming through Christchurch); if you add to this the proposals for several hundred houses in the area (as outlined in the Local Plan), the prospects for the A35, B3073 and our town centre are rather grim! ACRA has registered ACRA as an ‘interested party’ so that we can be kept aware of any developments.
A338 Road Works
Vegetation clearance along the A338 has started and is scheduled to continue for up to 6 weeks. This is in advance of the major maintenance scheme and will involve some traffic management to protect the workers close to the highway. The work is currently planned to be undertaken at night.
Dorset County Cllr Peter Finney told the Echo: “We will be carrying out as much advance work as possible in the run up to September, which will ensure that when we are on site we can get straight to work on the carriageway reconstruction.
The Bournemouth Spur Road is in grave need of this major maintenance and by making it more reliable – by bringing it up to modern dual carriageway standards – we will help unlock the potential of key employment land; creating more jobs, retaining skills and delivering economic growth for Dorset.”
On our website www.wcresidents.co.uk you can find a Travel and Transport Newsletter which gives more information on this and other local road projects
Value For Money
Our Subscription Rate for 2015 will remain at £1 per household
All of us who go out collecting subs are perpetually asked how we manage to keep the subs at just £1 year after year. A large part of the answer is the role that computers have come to play in modern business. For example, in 2004 we spent £340 on photocopying and postage (2004 prices). In 2014 we spent virtually nothing on either of those – e-mail has simply replaced them.
In addition we have our website www.wcresidents.co.uk ably maintained by our webmaster Eileen Lancaster. Everything on there is viewed by visitors but your favourite areas are: CBC affairs; the minutes of our monthly meetings and those of our umbrella group ACRA; old monthly newsletters; planning applications; the police; useful contacts; and St Catherine’s Hill. Recent new features include “schools” and “what’s on”.
See What’s On to get details of the Quiz Night on 17th January in the Hall on the Hill at 7.30pm
If you think we could usefully include other features on the website – please let us know
Apologies but once a year we have to allow our Chairman out from his cubbyhole and let him make an annual statement. The 2014 version is now on the website.