|Marsh Lane School
DCC has now approved the application and we wait to see if the Secretary of State will call it in. If you want full chapter and verse on “calling in” go to http://www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on latest updates where you will find a link to a Government policy guide – not difficult reading for anyone that’s interested.
We have discovered that there is no legal obligation for the Secretary of State to use the call-in powers.
The power to call-in planning applications under section 77 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 is very general in scope. In practice, however, it is stated Government policy only to call-in a very small number of planning applications every year. Here’s a quote from The Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark):
The Government believes that planning decisions should be taken in, and by, local communities, and so uses its call-in powers sparingly. Essentially, the powers are used when matters are of national significance.
We understand that such cases may include those which: conflict with national policies on important matters; have a significant long-term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single local authority; could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to national controversy; raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or may involve the interests of national security or of foreign Governments.
Viewed with a non-partisan eye we can’t really see that the Marsh Lane School meets any of those criteria.
Trees on St Catherine’s Hill
We have an update from Robin Harley of CBC. To read it in full go to http://www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates”. Here’s an extract:
Public consultation took place in February and March 2012 and there was significant support for the main objectives and subsequent adoption of the 10 year site management plan in October 2012.
Since then, the Management Steering Group has been working on implementation of its action plan. Alongside the site managers, this group includes the main local organisations with an interest in the site, including West Christchurch Residents Association, Hurn Parish Council, Natural England and the Friends of St Catherine’s Hill.
Part of the management process involves focussing on areas where selective felling is required. Priority has been given to areas where: early recovery is required to allow further works; trees are in poor condition or; to enable later access to adjacent areas. You may have noticed blue paint marks at the base of some of the trees. These refer to individual trees that the Steering Group feel should be retained at the moment.
Although the plan runs for a 10 year period we decided to apply for felling licences on an annual basis to allow changes to the site to be more gradual and any potential impacts to be smaller and easier to remedy. The Steering Group has also been able to consider smaller areas in more detail. The Group will continue to have a close involvement in the implementation of required works.
The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust are currently unable to proceed with their planned works due to funding issues and therefore information on these will be provided closer to when they are planned to take place (probably September 2016 onwards).
Those of you with long memories may recall that a certain local organisation predicted that this plan could well run into funding difficulties and suggested such contingency should be built in. With CBC looking to save money the overall situation may well worsen and we may yet find ourselves looking at devising an emergency plan.
Local Hospital – Results of Care Quality Commission’s inspection
Overall our Hospital Trust was rated “requires improvement”
Tony Spotswood, Chief Executive Officer, said: “I am very proud of all that our staff at RBCH has achieved over the last years. When the CQC visited us in 2014 they found that significant improvements had been made at the Trust since 2013 and it is good to see from their latest report that this progression has continued.
I was also very pleased to see that all services at Christchurch Hospital have been rated as good, with the CQC reporting that our staff was caring and compassionate and treated patients with dignity and respect.”
The care of children and young people was rated as “outstanding”.
Five services were rated as “good”: critical care; surgery; outpatient and diagnostic services; end of life care and children’s and young people’s services.
Three services were rated “requiring improvement”: urgent and emergency services; medical care and maternity and gynaecology.
For further details please visit http://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/RDZ
And a local initiative by a group of doctors to take over 111 calls is looking for feedback. Go to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CoastalQaire to participate
Waste Bins on Christchurch Quay
We asked Cllr Margaret Phipps to comment on the removal of the waste bins on the Quay. Here's what she said:
This is just a trial. All those with stalls on the Quay have Licences which include conditions requiring them to remove rubbish arising from their businesses (such as ice cream stalls or burger vans etc.).
Event organisers are also responsible for removing their own litter and clearing up afterwards.
We are hoping that both residents and visitors will respect the area and take their litter home and to this end we are just operating this trial for the Easter period as a start. The situation will be monitored and reviewed.
If we find it is not working and much more litter picking is necessary, then of course it may not be cost effective and we may have to replace the bins.
We asked Councillor Colin Bungey as Leader of the Opposition, to comment.
Contrary to what has been stated in the press that it is to make savings, there will in fact be no savings for Christchurch Council as the money will be used to finance extra litter clearance - which to me seems to contradict the stated reasons for removal!
I have also been informed that the Council will be footing the cost of removal and also the cost if it is found that they need to be reinstated. It seems to me that DWP are in a win-win situation. I also have great concerns that the Splash Park, which is heavily used in the open season - particularly by young mothers with toddlers, will have nowhere to place soiled nappies.
Allowances to be paid to CBC Councillors 2016-17
How much are we going to pay our Councillors this year? The recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel can be summarised as follows: with effect from 1st April, 2016 the Basic Allowance for all CBC Councillors should be set at £4,113, an increase of 1%; in addition “special responsibility” allowances should be paid. For example: Leader of the Council £10,282; Deputy Leader of the Council £8,226; Portfolio Holders £4,113
Is there an argument do you think for cutting the number of Councillors by 60% whilst doubling the allowances?
Local Government Reorganisation
The last month has been a relatively quiet period. We are now awaiting the “high level” financial analysis which was due to appear end-March but April now appears more likely. We have completed our ACRA review team which comprises three retired Christchurch residents who during their working lives worked as: Chief Executive of CBC; Member of National Audit Office specialising in Local Authorities; and a City of London based Director.
During the month DCC popped its head above the parapet and produced a discussion paper for DCC Councillors. Our ACRA review team took a look and Cllr Margaret Phipps was kind enough to forward our comments to DCC who responded very quickly. DCC Leader Cllr Robert Gould also responded:
The first thing to say is that we won't be making any decisions on these issues tomorrow (WCRA: Thursday 10th March). The purpose of the council meeting is to have a debate about all the options, hopefully narrow them down and authorise officers to do more work. The further work will deal with many of the questions in the (ACRA) paper so be reassured that they are being addressed. This will also include public consultation.
We are using Local Partnerships, a body jointly owned by the Treasury and the Local Government Association to advise on financial viability of all the options. There are significant changes proposed to future funding of local government, with retention of local business rates and removal of Revenue Support Grant. This will be taken into account in projections.
The timetable is one set down by Central Government and is very challenging if we are to achieve devolution, public service reform and reorganisation within the lifetime of this government. The danger is clear; if we do not push ahead we will lose out in terms of government investment which will go to other parts of the country. This is a competitive process with limited funds available which we would like to see invested in Dorset. If change is not achieved by us taking the initiative now, there is a high risk that the next government will impose a solution (WCRA emphasis).
(WCRA note: It has become clear that the whole timetable is being driven by Central Government’s desire to have everything done and dusted before the 2020 General Election. By working backwards from that date we arrive at an outline timetable: decide what is to happen by May 2016; consult with the electorate and gain their support; inform Secretary of State of desire to merge supported by a business case and evidence of public support by January 2017; with elections to the newly formed council(s) in May 2019. DCC describe this timetable as “very ambitious”.
All Residents Associations in ACRA are strictly non-political and we go out of our way to avoid political comment. In that spirit we feel we have to say that driving through such fundamental change, which will have ramifications for years to come, based upon the date of the next General Election could be described as irresponsible. Please let us know your views on this issue by replying to this e-mail and having your say). Back to Robert Gould:
DCC is already showing leadership by being the first authority to have a full debate. We are working very closely with all the other councils, most importantly through the Leaders' Growth Board and the creation of the Combined Authority to deliver more services in a seamless way and provide better strategic planning for transport. At the last meeting of the Growth Board on Monday, we agreed a communications and consultation strategy for all nine councils to take place over the summer and early autumn.
At the end of the DCC meeting, councillors were asked to vote on which option for the new unitary authority they would prefer. The vote was not binding and was made so councillors could indicate their preferred direction going forward. During a series of votes, councillors strongly indicated they would prefer to see the county split into two unitary authorities.
In a final anonymous vote, where councillors were asked to indicate which combination they preferred, 22 councillors chose a Dorset authority with a separate authority formed by a merger of Poole and Bournemouth; 17 indicated their preferred option was for Christchurch to merge with Poole and Bournemouth leaving the rest to form the second separate unitary authority; the remaining 3 voted for no change.
Don’t forget the public meeting Thursday April 21st at 7.30pm Hall on the Hill, Marlow Drive, West Christchurch when all of this will be discussed.
Work on A338 Spur Road
There’ll be a week of night closures in March in preparation for the final phase of works – to rebuild the main stretch of the northbound carriageway. Work is currently on schedule to finish at the end of May. Keep up to date with the latest progress by following the blog.
With the EU Referendum and the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections coming up, don’t forget to make sure you are registered to vote. The Government's introduction of the Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system now means each and every individual is responsible for registering themselves to vote. If you think you might not be registered get hold of your National Insurance number and Find out more and register to vote online.