|Police Appeal for Witnesses
Officers are appealing for witnesses to a fatal accident just after 7pm on Thursday 13 October 2016, when a cyclist and a grey VW Polo collided near the railway bridge in Barrack Road.
The cyclist, a local man in his twenties, was taken to Royal Bournemouth Hospital with very serious injuries from which he died. The driver of the car, a 53-year-old Christchurch woman, was uninjured.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk via email email@example.com or by calling 101, quoting incident number 13:375. Alternatively contact Crime-stoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Many of us are reasonably certain that we will not see a Christchurch bypass built in our lifetime. That means we must concentrate upon other measures (park-and-ride for example) and suggestions such as making Bargates either one-way from the bridge to Fountain Roundabout or turning it into a pedestrian precinct. However, there are reasonably concrete plans in place to improve the local road system away from the town centre and we thought we’d get you a status report on them.
Over £20 million of investment has been earmarked to fund a series of improvements along the A338 (Spur Road) and B3073 (Hurn Road) aimed at facilitating better access for Bournemouth Airport as well as unlocking underutilised land at Aviation Business Park and at Wessex Fields (by Bournemouth hospital).
At Blackwater Junction (where B3073 Hurn Road meets the A338) the scheme will involve altering the junctions on the B3073 and the construction of additional approach lanes. The slip roads off and on to the A338 will also be improved. The main work is scheduled to commence in September 2017. A traffic census has been taken and initial site clearance (required to enable detailed survey work) has started.
Hurn Roundabout on the B3073 (near Hurn Village) will be redesigned to improve access to the airport and Aviation Business Park. The scheme will involve moving the roundabout to a new site east of its current location and includes the realignment of Parley Lane, Avon Causeway and Christchurch Road. The Matchams Lane junction will be moved. Works at Hurn Roundabout are due to start in September 2017
A number of improvements are also being investigated on the B3073 at Chapel Gate (the entrance to the Business Park) and at Parley Cross. These are at the design stage but it is hoped to start work by autumn 2017
Improvements to the A338 at Wessex Fields will provide a second access road to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and potentially to existing businesses on the Wessex Fields business park. Preliminary design and site investigation surveys and assessments are currently taking place.
These schemes form part of a £45 million programme negotiated by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership through central government’s ‘Growth Deal’ initiative for what is a major economic growth plan focused on boosting employment and development around Bournemouth Airport and Wessex Fields.
A Police Message
Dorset Police is warning car owners to leave their car keys in a secure place in their home, out of sight of potential thieves. Since July 2016, there have been several burglaries which have led to the theft of car keys and consequently the vehicles.
Most, though not all, of these offences have taken place over night. Detective Inspector Neil Wright of the Priority Crime Team said:
“In several of these burglaries, it is clear that the homes are targeted with the sole aim of stealing the car. The keys are the only item taken, despite evidence that rooms containing valuable items have being searched but the valuables have been left untouched.
There are some simple yet effective steps you can take to avoid being a victim of this type of burglary and consequential of vehicle theft. Leave your keys in a place where they are not visible or easily accessible. Never leave them in the door itself or in a place which can be accessed externally via the letterbox or an insecure window or door.
We are aware of some safety concerns around keeping keys too far from doors in case there is a fire. We understand people are keen to prepare for events where they may need to exit the property quickly. Decide on a safe place for your keys and always use it, so you can easily find them in an emergency. Make sure everyone in your home knows where these keys are kept”
The City of London Police, in partnership with Get Safe Online, has put together a National Cyber Crime Survey. Its purpose is to learn about people’s awareness of online safety and experiences of cybercrime, with a view to improving knowledge and understanding. This will then help to provide a better response to victims.
If you have a spare 15 minutes, they would be grateful if you could complete a short questionnaire. The link can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CybercrimeSurvey2016
Hall on the Hill – Defibrillators
We have been trying to get defibrillators installed at the Hall on the Hill for quite some time. The latest comprehensive expert analysis has highlighted a rather higher cost than the £1295 previously advised to WCRA. It appears that after allowing for the purchase of a Defibrillator Safe and VAT the total cost is now £1,993. However, in addition to a generous £500 contribution from local store Nisa, Friends of St Catherine’s Hill, the Gun Club, and the Hall on the Hill will all be making contributions to the cost. WCRA will reconfirm its commitment to contributing funds to the purchase subject to a full and final funding statement from the Hall on the Hill Management
Trees in Druitt Gardens
CBC officers carried out an inspection in Druitt Gardens and identified various trees that need attention, ranging from removing deadwood through to felling. Their recommendations were approved by CBC Councillors. DCC’s Tree Team, along with several other contractors, submitted quotes for carrying out the work and DCC were successful in being awarded the contract. Work will start on Monday 17th October and will take approximately a week.
Marsh Lane School Application 8/15/0665
A whole welter of reports relating to the new school has been posted on the Dorset-For-You website. http://countyplanning.dorsetforyou.com/ePlanningOPS/searchPageLoad.do
The Planning Officer dealing with this application is Huw Williams 01305 228 264.
Dorset Police and the Dorset Alert System
Regular readers will recall that we have been pushing Dorset Police to make this system, funded by your money, work properly. In October of last year we asked for a progress report from the police on bringing the Dorset Alert system into full and proper use. Here’s what we were told:
Once the system is shipshape administratively and the database is in good order, we’ll move on to improve the quality of messages and provide more consistency. Around this time would be a good opportunity for the first User Group – we’d be able to share how we’ve improved the data, explain how the new groups and subjects will work, and remind people how they can encourage more sign-ups for the improved system.
A meeting of both our internal police users, external partners and message recipients will also help further clarify what kind of messages are most useful, the volume people expect, and the style they’d prefer (for example, quick and informal versus more structured, formal messages). This will all inform the internal guidelines we produce.
We will be creating a list of people to invite to these User Groups and be in touch with you when a date is set.
The current situation, a year later, is that the system is still not fully functional and no user group has been formed. This has nothing to do with the front line police officers and everything to do with their management. As you know the Police and Crime Commissioner has refused to meet us to discuss this sort of issue – could this be the real reason why we wonder?
Those Projected Council Funding Deficits
A large part of what is driving those projected funding deficits in Dorset’s Local Authorities lies in the field of care for the elderly and the disabled. The Care and Support Alliance reported recently that fewer and fewer people are receiving the care and support they desperately need.
“This is an indicator of the impact that chronic underfunding of social care in England is having,” they said. “Because of a lack of funds, cuts to care budgets mean that vulnerable older people, disabled people and those that care for them are being forced out of the system”.
It is estimated that an extra £1billion per year of funding is needed just to ‘stand still’. Social care is facing a £3.5bn deficit by 2020, and a recent report from the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust warned that older people may have to primarily rely on private care in the future.
Local Authorities have little choice but to reorganise to create savings to meet this need.
More Central Government Manoeuvres
Last month we highlighted how Whitehall doesn’t so much issue directives as present Local Authorities with Hobson’s choice. Well, here’s another example of that.
You will recall that DCC recently axed two local bus services (details at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest updates” to see the link on 29th July 2016). The Bus Services Bill was recently debated in the House of Lords. This prompted the Local Government Association transport spokesman to comment:
“The Bus Services Bill is a missed opportunity to improve bus provision throughout the country by giving all areas the automatic rights to franchising, rather than just those with directly-elected mayors, as is currently proposed.
While the bill simplifies the franchising process and introduces new opportunities for innovative partnerships, for example between councils and bus operators, it will not by itself overcome the major challenges facing most councils in their efforts to protect local bus provision. By having to apply to the secretary of state, it could mean lengthy delays for councils.”
So you see, you don’t have to have an elected Mayor, but if you don’t….
Local Government Reorganisation
On your behalf we met with Ian Milner, CBC Strategic Director, to get more information on the financial analysis that was undertaken of Dorset’s Councils. You can read a full account of our conversation at www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “latest changes”
One thing we were anxious to understand is the level of actual debt carried by Bournemouth and Poole and we therefore asked Ian about that. He told us:
A significant proportion of actual debt in Bournemouth and Poole (as distinct from projected deficit) is attributable to their stock of Council Housing. The housing stock is managed within a ring-fenced account and is funded by council tenants and not council tax.
Unlike say Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole retained their housing stock rather than transferring them to a housing association. A recent change in legislation enabled Bournemouth and Poole to purchase their stock of Council houses from Central Government using borrowed funds and this is what makes up the bulk of their external borrowing.
Such houses are by statute ring-fenced and must be serviced and maintained solely by the rents paid by Council Tenants and not by the Council Tax paid by other residents.
We feel this arrangement would represent a significant safeguard for the residents of Christchurch in the event of a merger with Bournemouth and Poole.
Just to remind you that in order to express your views on the proposed reorganisation of our local councils you need to complete the “Reshaping your Councils” questionnaire that you can find at a special website https://news.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/reshapingyourcouncils/ where you can do everything on-line.
If you need to refresh your memory on the consultation issues go to www.wcresidents.co.uk and click on “newsletters 2016” and then “special edition August 2016”.
If you want to read background material click on www.wcresidents.co.uk and then “latest updates” where at 29th August 2016 you’ll find our financial analysis; at 1st June 2016 a report on non-financial issues; at 30th June 2016 a summary of this soap opera since it started in October 2015
Your deadline for submission of your opinion is 25th October 2016
We normally hold a public meeting in October and had the hall booked for 20th October. However, that date is within the consultation period – which means that Councillors and Council Officers are very restricted in what they are allowed to say. We came to the conclusion that it would be both unfair and unwise to go ahead with the meeting and it has therefore been postponed.