|Results of the Public Consultation into Local Government Reorganisation
Many of you will be aware that the results were published on 5th December. If you want to read the full reports click here
Alternatively, if you want to read our plain English summary and analysis of the consultation results from a Christchurch perspective click here and then “latest updates”.
Dorset’s nine council leaders welcomed the results, saying in a statement: “Whilst we are conscious that there are a range of opinions and welcome the opportunity to mitigate concerns, we are hugely encouraged to see that the people of this county strongly support change in order to position Dorset and protect services in the future, and that the evidence concludes that change is in Dorset’s best interests. Receiving these reports today marks a significant point in our road to securing Dorset’s future, and is testament to our commitment to get this right.”
The main results and findings of which you should be aware are:
It is sad to note that in Christchurch some Questionnaires were found to contain a bogus guide instructing residents to voice an opinion against the proposal to replace nine existing councils with two new councils. To quote from the official report:
- The results of the survey are statistically sound
- The overall support for cutting duplication and reducing costs is overwhelming
- Quality of service, accountability and value for money are by far the most important criteria for change. Local identity is rated a low priority
- The proposed Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole unitary received majority support in all quarters except the statistically unreliable open public survey returns from Christchurch
- The support for the proposed Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole unitary was particularly significant in the business sector.
- The investigating accountants concluded that there is a compelling case for local government reorganisation in Dorset. Their analysis shows that the proposal to replace the current nine councils with two new unitary authorities has key strengths in the areas deemed important by Central Government’s tests
A note which referred to itself as an ‘advisory guide’ on filling in the consultation form was discovered among a batch of questionnaires received by a library in Christchurch. This slip was not printed as part of the information provided by the councils, and it was unclear how it came to be inserted in the questionnaires and how many had been distributed. The guide advised respondents to strongly disagree with the proposal to replace the existing nine councils with two new councils, as well as with options 2a and 2b, and to tick ‘tend to support’ for option 2c.
In our opinion this revelation renders the statistical results obtained from the public consultation questionnaire in Christchurch even less reliable than would otherwise be the case.
Luckily the more reliable data obtained from the statistically balanced sample of Christchurch households is available and that shows 63% in Christchurch in favour of forming two new unitary authorities and a similar number in favour of the Christchurch—Bournemouth-Poole configuration. The commonest reasons given for favouring this solution were:
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole form a ‘natural’ urban and coastal unity – and their economies and infrastructures are inter-linked
- Christchurch is not ‘naturally’ part of a large rural Dorset authority that will probably be governed from Dorchester
- For the reasons above it has more in common with Bournemouth and Poole
- The savings to be achieved through this combination are significantly bigger than under the other options
- It seems the most efficient division of the existing local authority units
- None of the boundaries of any of the existing councils will be retained. This should reinforce the view that an entirely new organisation is being created and no “take overs” are involved
- This configuration gives the most balanced division of population and electoral divisions
CBC Councillors will discuss these findings on 13th December 2016 and Council Leaders from across Dorset will meet to formulate a planned way forward on 15th December 2016. We will report the final outcome to you in the New Year.
Three years ago in 2013 Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals spent a lot of time, energy and an estimated £5 million planning for a merger. These plans were thrown out by the Competition Commission, which stated that the proposals could damage patients' interests.
Apparently merger talks have been resurrected together with proposals to amalgamate GP surgeries – aiming to approximately halve their numbers. We have been contacted by Dr Alyson O’Donnell, Medical Director and Tony Spotswood, Chief Executive Officer who tell us that:
The NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group has announced that public consultation will start on Thursday 1 December and run for 12 weeks.
This will be a large undertaking to engage the public, explaining why our health system needs to adapt for the future and outlining proposals for change, including the Royal Bournemouth Hospital becoming the major emergency hospital for the east of the county. You can complete the questionnaire online by clicking here
The Clinical Services Review is a great opportunity for all of us involved in health services locally to work together to improve services across Dorset. Public engagement is vital for the process and we encourage all of you to share your views during the consultation period as all views will count. Please do encourage your family and friends to get involved as well.
Funding – or rather the lack of it – lies at the heart of this. It isn’t just local authorities that are projecting funding shortfalls. Dorset’s Health Service managers foresee being at least £158 million in the red if no action is taken. Please take a moment to complete the survey.
CBC has updated its budget forecasts in the Medium Term Financial Strategy
The previous forecast was a balanced budget for the next two financial years and then a shortfall of £167,000 in 2019-20
The update continues to show a balanced situation in 2017-18 and 2018-19 but an increased projected shortfall in 2019-20 of £213,000 with a new total 5-year projected shortfall of £320,000
The prime culprits for the increase are enhanced salaries in the Leisure Centre following a job evaluation exercise. These are partially offset by an estimated reduction in cost of the CBC contribution to the Dorset Waste Partnership.
Broadband in Dorset
Over 90 per cent of Dorset premises can now apparently get superfast speeds (24Mbs or more).
Comparing fibre broadband costs from different suppliers has hopefully been made easier by new rules that force them to make their adverts clearer. Firms can no longer separate the line rental and monthly cost of an internet connection, under changes brought in by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ASA also wants suppliers to make sure ads give greater prominence to things like the length of contracts, prices after any initial discount has ended and up-front costs like installation or activation fees. Click here for more information on clearer pricing rules.
In addition, the DCC Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme aims to help those on the poorest speeds to improve their service. Residents and businesses that are on less than 2Mbps, could be eligible for a subsidy towards the installation cost of a wireless or a satellite broadband connection. Wireless and satellite technologies are capable of reaching properties in the most rural parts of the county, offering a solution where fibre deployment would be more complex and very expensive. More than 400 voucher codes have already been issued in Dorset, helping individuals and entire communities.
News from the Airport
Even though the Airport is performing well against budget at the moment, the results are 10.8% down on last year with passenger numbers for the months July to end October 2016 all lower than both 2015 and 2014.
Passenger numbers year-to-date stand at 515,000 against a budget of 466,000 (up 10.5%). As a consequence, the Airport is ahead of its financial budget. A tight reign is being kept on costs, which are 0.4% better than budget.
Ryanair has delivered a doubling of their flying programme for the winter season and the new Krakow route has been launched, flying Mondays and Fridays. Early indications on passenger numbers look promising. There are also additional P&O cruise flights planned.
To read the full story click here and click on “latest updates”
Christmas Refuse Collection
|Usual Collection Day
||Revised Collection Day
|Friday 23rd December
|Monday 26th December
||Tuesday 27th December
|Tuesday 27th December
||Wednesday 28th December
|Wednesday 28th December
||Thursday 29th December
|Thursday 29th December
||Friday 30th December
|Friday 30th December
||Saturday 31st December
|Monday 2nd January onwards
||No change – normal service resumes
Christmas cards, envelopes, etc. can all be recycled. That includes ordinary wrapping paper but NOT foil and glittery paper – which should be put in the non-recycle bin.
The Milton Musical Society
A member has contacted us:
I am Chair of the Milton Musical Society, based in Christchurch and New Milton, and we are anxiously seeking a volunteer to help us keep our books/finances in order. This is an honorary position, and comes with a seat on the Society's committee, so if someone wanted to develop an interest in things theatrical, that would be a bonus!!! The social aspect of joining the Society has benefits as well, as we meet for social events as well as preparing for musical events.
Anybody interested should e-mail email@example.com
Hall on the Hill Children’s Christmas Party
The Children’s Christmas Party this year will be on Saturday 17th December. For full details click here and then “events”
2016 has been an exhausting year and your correspondent is looking forward to a restful Christmas. See you in the New Year.