|Proposed School on Marsh Lane
The DCC event in the Hall on the Hill was very well attended and certainly left DCC officers in no doubt of the strength of local feeling both for and against their proposals. We think this is a good point at which to summarise “where we are at” with this project which will, directly or indirectly, affect a great many of our members.
First we asked local DCC Councillor Margaret Phipps for her assessment:
The County Council had 8 Officers present at the Public Information Event on 3rd July, to talk to residents about any aspects of the proposals, and they were kept busy throughout the afternoon. Comments, which were collected at the event, are being analysed by the County Council Team, and they tell me that some of the suggestions were very helpful.
The demographic in West Christchurch has been changing, with parents and their young families buying properties, and working in the Christchurch area where economic growth and employment opportunities are rising. The demand for infant places significantly exceeds available local capacity. To give you an idea of the problem: for September 2015 there were 256 applications to Christchurch Infant School which has a capacity of 120 places. Of the 256, 161 gave Christchurch Infant School as a first preference choice and of those, 149 were within its catchment area. As a result virtually every child living in an area west of Christchurch Hospital was refused admission.
To cope with the emerging situation, in September 2013, the County Council formed a new “School within a School” on the Christchurch Infants School site, and currently 60 infants are being schooled in 2 porta-cabins there. However, with 30 more children due to start in September 2015, there is no more space there for another porta-cabin. This means that from September, the 90 children will move temporarily, into refurbished accommodation at Twynham School.
September 2016 will see another 30 children requiring an infant school place, and all of them badly need their own new school close to where they live. These children cannot continue year on year in temporary locations, particularly as space is very limited at the Twynham site, and there is little or no capacity to provide more temporary accommodation to deal with the continuing rise in numbers, whilst they wait for a new school to be provided somewhere in West Christchurch.
The County Council has had the very difficult task of searching for land which is large enough for a much needed new school in the West Christchurch area. They have looked at numerous locations in the catchment, but only the Marsh Lane site seems to be suitable. In order to build a school there, they will have to obtain planning permission. Once an application is submitted, there will be a consultation period giving the public the opportunity to formally write in with support for, or concerns about the proposal. This is likely to happen in the next few months.
It is clear that there are many parents and children who are desperate for a new primary school in West Christchurch, but there are others who think that the chosen site is not the right location. Ultimately, the statutory planning process will determine the outcome. It will scrutinize not only location and need for a school, but a wider range of aspects relating to the proposal as well.
Next, we asked Colin Bungey as local ward councillor for Jumpers for his thoughts:
There is a need for further consultation on any proposed traffic calming measures in the Bronte Avenue, Marsh Lane and adjacent roads. Another major issue that I raised was that any further increase in traffic movements along The Fairmile and Hurn Road would lead to further congestion on these roads. Adding to this congestion would be the new houses and other developments on the hospital site.
They also appeared to be unaware of the probable large increase in heavy lorry movements through Christchurch when gravel extraction starts at the back of Roeshot Hill. I was reminded that many years ago Christchurch tried to get a heavy lorry ban introduced in an effort to reduce congestion and pollution. I believe this was overturned and prevented because Hampshire County Council placed a ban on heavy lorry movements through areas of the New Forest so Christchurch lost out. Perhaps this proposal should be revisited.
I think that the majority of residents agree that there is a desperate need for a new school in West Christchurch and it must be hoped that, as many of the pupils will live within walking distance of the school, parents will in fact choose to walk their children to the school where possible.
WCRA also received a lot of feedback, much of which gelled with our own opinion that some large questions remain unanswered – and not least the suspicion that a lack of funds at DCC could be driving some decisions. We have consolidated all of that in a letter to the Leader of Dorset Council, Councillor Robert Gould which you can read it at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”
If you want to contact us simply reply to this e-mail. If you want to contact local Councillors direct you will find contact details on our website www.wcresidents.co.uk
Meeting With Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner
We met with Martyn Underhill to discuss local policing. The new collaboration with Devon and Cornwall (that also includes Avon and Somerset on some issues) looks to be a positive move as does the roll-out of officers wearing body-cams.
The plans for the old Christchurch Police Station site are moving slowly forward and involve potentially moving the rapid response team to the Fairmile Road fire station. Central Government are encouraging greater cooperation between police and fire services that will include enabling legislation in 2016
Interestingly, Martyn believes that recorded crime will increase in 2016. You can read his reasons plus a full account of the meeting at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”
B3073 Hurn Road
Two dates to note. On Monday 20th July work will start to alter the layout of the junction between Hurn Road, St Catherine’s Way and Marlow Drive. Ongoing information can be found at the following link:
On Monday 27th July DCC will remove the “no right turn” signs that prevent commercial vehicles turning right off Hurn Road into the unloading area at the rear of the Marlow Drive shops. This is an experiment to see if such a move stops the commercial traffic using the small access road that runs parallel with the main B3073 without causing any major problems.
Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP)
What now I hear you cry. In April we learned of their financial difficulties that resulted in CBC having to find an extra unbudgeted £106,681 from our money plus the fact that DWP had been acting illegally. In June we obtained information about dust carts that had been purchased using our money that are too big to go down some Dorset roads. This month we learn that their financial projections for 2015-16 currently show an income shortfall of £911,000. This provoked the BBC to report: DWP is predicted to bust its budget by £911,000 in 2015/16, unless action is taken.
We asked Councillor Margaret Phipps to find out more. Here’s what DWP had to say:
A 37 point action plan was agreed in March to help improve the management and reporting of DWP. Part of the action plan was to carry out monthly budget reviews and provide early warning to local Councils of any risk to the budget. At the last meeting of the DWP Joint Committee we indicated that there was a risk that the budget may be exceeded, not that the budget will be "bust" to use the BBC's parlance. We have a better budget monitoring process in place which means that we can provide an early warning of any risks to overspend in order that action can be taken.
Of the £911,000 potential risk of overspend about £390,000 results from a drop in the market price of recyclable materials. We believe that there is now an indication that the market for these materials is improving. There was also a risk identified that £250,000 of the savings plan may not be achieved; the DWP management team are focussed on identifying items to achieve the savings that will be necessary. One particular area of potential savings is the reduction in the level of absenteeism; we believe our management efforts are already bearing fruit in this regard. The third major item is a potential reduction of £200k against the budget for income from garden waste services; again the management team are striving to get more householders to buy into the system.
If you have not yet taken advantage of the DWP garden waste collection service, you need to register before 31 July to avoid having to wait until April 2016 (flexibility is not their strong point).
The service is provided fortnightly all year round except two weeks over Christmas and New Year. It is available at the current price of £41 a year if you register by the end of July 2015, and you will get your bin in September, in time for DWP to collect the autumn leaves. The 2016 price will be £45.
Go to www.dorsetforyou.com/gardenwaste and complete the DWP’s secure online form. Alternatively, you can call the DWP on 01305 221040. You can set up a Direct Debit payment, which means the service will be renewed automatically each year.
But Well Done CBC
CBC has reported that in 2014-15 their income exceeded their expenses by £501,853. After setting aside £60,000 to meet a portion of Beagle’s expenses incurred during the Stoney Lane – Morrison planning adventure and a further £50,000 for housing (looking after the homeless etc.) CBC has set aside £391,853 as reserves to be called upon in the future as needs arise.
A scam email is currently being sent to residents fraudulently claiming to be from the Royal Mail, British Gas, and similar public bodies. Attached to the email is the Crypto-Locker virus.
The resident receives an email purporting to be from for example the Royal Mail stating that they are holding a parcel for them and they need to contact the Royal Mail to arrange for collection.
By following the instructions within the email the Crypto-Locker virus is subsequently downloaded to the resident’s computer. This virus encrypts files on the resident’s system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted.
Additional incentive is added for early repayment as the ransomware states that the cost of decrypting the files will increase the longer the “fine” is outstanding.
In addition, Courier fraudsters have been identifying themselves to victims on the telephone as “Detective Constable Martin Benton of New Scotland Yard Fraud Department”. The fraudsters will invent a story regarding fraudulent activity on your credit card and request your bank/card details.
- Back-up all your documents at regular, frequent intervals
- Install virus-checking software
- Never open attachments on unsolicited emails regardless of who they are from.
- Do not click on the link supplied. Instead, go to the relevant website and log in from there.
No such person exists at the Metropolitan Police. If you receive a call from someone purporting to be this individual, terminate the call immediately.
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.
Lesser Known Christchurch
Those of you who heard the Steve Roberts presentation at our April public meeting will be pleased to hear that the book is now finished.
The book's launch will be on Thursday August 6th. You can find out more at the publisher's website (http://www.rovingpress.co.uk)