So we start our fifth year of Newsletters in this format (the first letters went out in autumn 2010 but March 2011 was the first using a professional e-mail distribution service). We start with year-end comments on their recent activities from local Councillors presented in alphabetical order.
In each case their full report can be read on the website www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”. Their contact details are also on the website.
Highlights from Cllr Colin Bungey and Cllr Fred Neale: Councillors for Jumpers Ward
We continue to keep an eye on what is happening in our part of Christchurch and the Borough overall.
We continue to monitor progress on the proposed new school and would welcome residents raising any concerns they may have with either of us as we both represent the ward where the school is to be built. Both of your Councillors have been dealing with prospective users and local residents with various issues raised. (WCRA note: see also later in this newsletter)
We have now had the graffiti on the garages that back onto Jumpers Common completely removed twice this year to improve our area for the community.
We have both continued to maintain a very healthy 100% attendance record in the last quarter on all our respective committees and panels including attendance at Full Council
Councillor Bungey has questioned payments of £210,000 made by CBC to Deutsche Bank the leaseholder of Saxon Square towards the improvements made there (full details on website)
Highlights from Margaret Phipps our DCC Representative
Good news on funding secured to protect Stourbanks in Conifer Close from flooding.
A flood wall around block 1 is already complete, and the wall around block 2 is under construction. I am absolutely delighted that residents of Conifer Close can now look forward to winters with greater confidence, feeling safe from flooding.
Marlow Drive Roundabout – during the summer it is intended to carry out some works in this roundabout area to make it safer. DCC has identified that some vehicles travelling along Hurn Road tend to go straight across the roundabout without slowing down, which makes it difficult for other vehicles to exit from Marlow Drive and St. Catherine’s Way, which can also be dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. There are plans to slightly increase the size of the central triangles on the approach roads to the roundabout, and also paint a hatched area around the existing roundabout, plus additional safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists. The aim is to encourage traffic to slow down as it approaches the roundabout.
The A338, Hurn Roundabout and future transport schemes – I wrote a detailed article about A338 maintenance and Hurn Roundabout for the February 2015 newsletter which can be found under “latest updates” on the website. The current situation with the planned A338 maintenance works is that they will commence in September 2015.
I thought it might be helpful to give you some idea of planned road schemes for the area, and their possible timetable, which will of course depend on funding: A338 maintenance Blackwater to Ashley Heath – Winter 2015/16; Hurn Roundabout – 2016/17; Chapel Gate Roundabout – 2016/17; Blackwater Interchange – 2017/18; Longham Mini Roundabouts – 2017/18; A338 widening between Cooper Dean and Blackwater – 2018/19.
New school provision – see later in this newsletter
Superfast Broadband - I am told that at the moment the majority of properties in West Christchurch (with the exception of Hurn) are able to access fibre broadband. However, there are still a few clusters of properties which need connecting.
The map at: http://mapping.dorsetforyou.com/superfast/availability/map gives a broad overview of areas to be covered for the basic service of 2-24 Mbps, based on postcode data. For those still to be connected, work is due to start this year and continue through next year.
Navitus Bay Wind Farm - I have attended 5 of the Public Inquiry Issue Specific hearings between November 2014 and January 2015, and taken an active part in some of the discussions. The Inquiry has now closed. The next step is that the Inspectors will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State by 11th June and a decision to approve or refuse the application will be made by 11th September 2015.
Highlights from Councillor Sue Spittle: Councillor for St Catherine’s and Hurn
For a number of years I have held the post of Housing Portfolio Holder at Christchurch Borough Council, and the last four years has seen a great change in the way people can apply for affordable homes i.e. homes that are owned by Housing Associations and let at a reduced rent.
In the past there were almost 2,000 households on the Housing Register, who wished to be considered for affordable housing. These applicants would be granted a number of points according to their circumstances and those with the highest number would be contacted and allocated a home by the Housing staff at the Council when one became available.
In December 2013 a new Joint Housing Allocations Policy was adopted by Christchurch and East Dorset Councils that had a strong emphasis towards local connection – Christchurch Homes for Christchurch People.
Using the strict criteria set out in this Policy a massive review of all the existing applicants was carried out and everyone on the register contacted. As of last week there are now 182 households on the CBC register, following 18 being re-housed. In addition there are 122 outstanding applications to be dealt with following receipt of documentation on eligibility, of which 57 applied last week. The applicants are now “banded” according to their circumstances, the more vulnerable being in the highest band.
From December 2014 applicants may view and bid (apply to be considered) for an available property on the Dorset for You website through the following link:
where details of the new Policy can also be found. For people without access to a computer the Housing staff are available to assist.
As you can appreciate the reduced Register is now far more manageable and realistic, and means that people can be contacted annually to ensure their application is still live, or should the Council staff feel a person should be applying for a certain property in view of their needs. It is likely that the number on the Register will increase but certainly not to the extent seen in the past.
WCRA Comment - Our thanks to our Councillors for taking the time and making the effort to give us those reports
Report Those Potholes
Using the DCC website, residents are able to report potholes and other road defects online.
Last year DCC spent £915,000 repairing 16,280 potholes
B3073 Hurn Road-Fairmile Road
Your correspondent was in Dorchester recently discussing with DCC the planned upgrades to the B3073 from Blackwater through Hurn to Parley Cross and I raised the issue of the B3073 from Blackwater to Christchurch Station. DCC acknowledged that new housing at Parley Cross and at Roeshot Hill combined with Roeshot Quarry and a new school at Marsh Lane would add substantially to the problems already associated with Hurn Road-Fairmile Road. However, they felt there was very little that could be done to alleviate the problem because there is no space to upgrade the road.
I asked them to give us a presentation at our next public meeting covering all the planned improvements at Blackwater, Hurn Roundabout, Chapel Gate and Parley Crossroads. The senior officer concerned was quite amenable but DCC Legal Department vetoed the idea because they felt it would take place too close to the May elections. Make what you will of all that!
Of course it leaves us without a speaker for our public meeting of Thursday 23rd April. We’ve asked the Airport if they would like to talk to us all and await their reply.
Proposed New School at Marsh Lane
Following on from last month we met with Councillor Margaret Phipps, DCC Officers and representatives of local action groups to discuss the proposed new school.
DCC emphasised that plans are still in development and so in that respect nothing is confirmed at this stage. The eventual plans will be subject to a rigorous planning process involving CBC.
The proposed school is a primary school, catering for both infant and junior aged pupils.
The current demand for infant places significantly exceeds available local capacity. In 2014 there were 247 applications to Christchurch Infant School which has a capacity of 120 places. Of the 247, 161 gave Christchurch Infant School as a first preference choice and of those 149 were within catchment area. As a result virtually every child living in an area west of Christchurch Hospital was refused admission.
Whilst the problem is particularly acute in West Christchurch – caused by young families moving into the area and an increase in the birth rate – it is also apparent across Dorset and it will be necessary to expand in other locations such as Burton and Highcliffe.
You can read full details of everything discussed at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”
More Guidelines on Avoiding Cyber Crime
This from the National Action Fraud Administrator:
Online auction sites are regularly targeted by fraudsters advertising desirable items for sale which are below market value, but do not exist. Fraudsters use a variety of techniques to persuade the potential buyer that the item is genuine and that any advanced payment will be protected or reimbursed should the product be faulty or not received.
IF YOU NEED TO REPORT A FRAUD PHONE 0300 123 2040 OR USE THE ACTION FRAUD REPORTING TOOL VIA THE ACTION FRAUD WEBSITE - http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
- Stay within the auction guidelines stipulated on the website.
- Remember payment made via bank transfer, money transfer or e-money is not protected, should you not receive the goods or service supposedly purchased.
- If the item advertised seems too good to be true, it probably is.
We had our meeting with Dorset Police, which was very constructive. We now hope that this coming year will see some improvements in Dorset Alert. You can read a full transcript of the meeting at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”
What has been a matter of fact for several months is now confirmed; Christchurch Police Station closed permanently to the public on 1 March. However, Dorset Police staff will remain based there until alternative accommodation is found for them – we are assured that they will retain a presence in Christchurch. (Although recent pronouncements from the Police Federation and the Police and Crime Commissioner, about more cuts in funding to come, make the future of Neighbourhood Policing look very fragile).
Crime Prevention Awareness Event
Christchurch remains one of the safest places in the world to live. However we must not be complacent. A crime prevention awareness event will be held on Saturday 28 March from 10am until 2pm at Hall on the Hill and residents are invited to drop in and learn about measures they can take in their homes to help prevent them becoming a victim of crime.
There will be a number of people available to give advice and answer any questions including: Homewatch; The Police Safer Neighbourhood Team; CBC Community Safety Team; Dorset Police Crime Prevention Officer; and some commercial organisations including one called Smart Water (http://www.smartwater.com)
Smart Water is a company that provides property marking kits which are a “Forensic Taggant”. (A taggant is a chemical or physical marker added to materials to allow various forms of testing). Smart Water claims that their kit is “suitable for the marking of all manner of valuables including personal possessions, business assets, vehicles and boats. The traceable liquid carries a forensic ‘code’ which is registered to an address or location. Once applied it is almost impossible to remove and can only be seen under UV light. Forensic analysis provides conclusive proof of ownership”.
At the event residents will be able to purchase the Smart Water property marking kits at a price of £10. There will also be a display of crime reduction products which will be available for purchase.
Residents must make up their own minds as to the worth and efficacy of any and all products offered for sale.
What Else Is On
Saturday 21st March an Easter eggstravaganza for children
Saturday 28th March - New Forest Yokels in The Hall on the Hill
See www.wcresidents.co.uk for details of these and other events under “what’s on”
Our audited 2014 accounts are on the website together with accounts to date for 2015
Our collectors will start collecting the £1 subs from next month