Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters Issue 3 - August 2017

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dorset Police Modernise

Dorset Police are to use drones. 

Drones are claimed to be a cost-effective way of obtaining pertinent information quickly.

The drones are equipped with zoom cameras and thermal imaging which will help officers to locate missing people, provide crime scene photography and to respond quickly to major road traffic accidents.

They have been trialled by Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Police since November 2015, and have now been sanctioned for full operational use. In the past, aerial photos and videos have been obtained using the National Police Air Service helicopter. In future, instead of sending a helicopter on an hour’s flight to take photos of a crime scene, the Police will be able to use a drone.

Body worn video cameras have been piloted across Dorset, with a permanent roll-out to firearms officers earlier this year. The long-term goal is to equip all operational frontline officers with such video recording equipment.

Video recording can help to diffuse tricky situations, enhance the gathering of evidence and provide greater transparency and accountability.

Will drones and video enable local police to clear the roads of accidents rather quicker than they do now we wonder? Instead of creating gridlock with people missing flights and unable to get to meetings will we see a far more efficient deployment of resources? We shall have to wait and see.

Rising Crime Rates
Reported crime is increasing in Dorset. According to the Office for National Statistics.


Dorset saw an 8 per cent increase in such crime for the year April 2016 to March this year. This is the first major rise after 10 years of reported crime gradually falling.

There were increases in individual crimes such as violence against the person, robbery, and sexual offences.

Crime categories which saw a reduction include burglaries and vehicle thefts.

Dorset Police say the crime rise follows predictions it made over the last few years and is in line with national trends.

Over the last five years, Dorset Police have experienced central Government cuts of £19 million. The force has seen a reduction of more than 200 officers since 2010.

Senior officers have stressed that Dorset remains one of the safest areas in the country.

Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) Survey


DWP is carrying out an online customer survey to find out what people think about their waste and recycling services, how they can be improved and what they should prioritise.

DWP are concerned about food waste being disposed of with rubbish that can’t be recycled. The food first adds to the weight – which increases the landfill charges. It then decomposes and creates methane gas which not only has to be managed but contributes to global warming. Recycled food, collected using the DWP Food Waste service, is significantly cheaper to process whilst also being environmentally friendly.

There are 15 questions covering the kerbside service, household recycling centres, fly-tipping/litter and communications. The survey should take only 5-10 minutes to complete.

It closes on Monday 4th September

The cost of rebuilding the zig zag is £1.25 million


THE estimated cost for rebuilding the Highcliffe zig zag now stands at £1.25 million

That is more than twice the original estimate of £580,000. The zig zag was closed earlier this year after engineers found the wooden piling shoring up the cliff was failing and might collapse.

If CBC decide not to continue with the rebuilding, they will incur a cost of £140,000 to demolish the zig zag and restore the area to a natural cliff face. They have already spent £65,000 over the past few months on fees and repairs.

CBC originally estimated £300,000 for the repair work but were not aware of the scale of the work involved until engineering consultants were called in. The area around the zig zag is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest which of course introduces further restrictions.

At the same time Council workers have found problems with the Regent Centre. The theatre’s steel frame is unsound and the cost of repairs is not yet known. It is possible that CBC may not have sufficient free funds to enable it to both rebuild the zig zag and repair the Regent Centre.

There are other ways of getting down to the beach at Highcliffe which are quite close to the zig zag.

Once upon a time buses were cheap to use, ran to time and were frequent
DCC Cuts More Buses

DCC used to subsidize 35 bus services but has decided to renew its financial support for only 7 of them. It comes as the council, which for each of the last three years has spent more cash than it has taken in, tries to make annual savings of £1.85m. Thus, Dorset has even more pensioners with a bus pass but no bus to use it on. Could it be that DCC needs to reorganize itself to save money and deliver services more efficiently?

Meanwhile, Councils across Dorset are carrying out a review of all council tax payers claiming a 25% single person discount on their council tax bill. This review will involve the Councils working with Capita Local Government Services who will be using data supplied from credit reference agencies.

DCC is keen to ensure that everyone who is entitled to the single person discount receives it. However, it recognises that taxpayers who claim the discount improperly place an unnecessary burden on other residents and it is undertaking the review to stop them. Those that claim the discount improperly directly reduce the amount of council tax collected and thus reduce the funding available for local services.
Council Reorganization
Welcome to the latest episode of our local soap opera. For our new readers, if you want to understand all the nuances there is a full history contained in old newsletters that you will find on our website.

In the July newsletter, we told you about the invitation to Christchurch from Bournemouth and Poole to participate in joint committee discussions concerning potential reorganization. East Dorset and Purbeck had already voted to join in, leaving Christchurch (a second-tier council within DCC and the smallest urban council in England by population) standing alone as the only authority not taking part.

Participating in these discussions is the only means of ensuring that Bournemouth and Poole, who support the proposed changes, are informed of the needs, aspirations and concerns of we the residents of Christchurch. On Tuesday 8th August CBC Councillors debated the issue.

To guide them they had a paper prepared by Chief Executive David McIntosh and letters from DCC as well as Bournemouth and Poole.

We will quote just one key passage from David McIntosh (our added emphasis):

Time will tell if reorganisation goes ahead. If it does then important decisions will be made by the Joint Committee which may be very difficult to reverse

The Joint Committee is expected to meet formally from September onwards, with possibly an initial informal meeting in late August. There is a strong argument to be made that if Christchurch BC does not engage then it will be to the disadvantage of the Council, our residents and our staff. Taking up the seats would give Christchurch an influence and voting rights.

There is a legal dimension to this. Section 15 of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 gives the Secretary of State the power to impose a solution upon a council that is inhibiting other consenting councils from moving forwards. In Dorset, the three top-tier councils comprising DCC, Bournemouth and Poole all consent to the proposed changes.

There is a cost of membership shared between participating councils with contribution based upon size of population. That works out at around £80,000 for CBC – much the same ballpark as the estimated cost of the proposed referendum but representing we think better value for money.
Important decisions that affect Taxpayers
So, what are these important decisions?

Let’s first cover what they won’t be deciding. They won’t be talking about alternative plans. Several of you have asked us about alternative structures of which three are the most popular:

Poole and Bournemouth come together but Christchurch stays with EDDC and all the other Dorset authorities.

Christchurch is moved into Hampshire and joins with New Forest Council

Christchurch splits from East Dorset but does not join with Bournemouth and Poole but rather stands alone

None of these suggestions are practical because:

For Christchurch to move into Hampshire would require an Act of Parliament – an unlikely event in the timescales required.

Christchurch does not have the necessary powers to stand alone with all that entails in terms of the level of taxation required and the delivery of such things as children’s services

Trumping all the other reasons, the Secretary of State is only empowered to either say “yes” to the current proposal (under which all the existing councils cease to exist) or to say “no”.

If he says “no” the entire process must start all over again with a public consultation and sufficient of Dorset’s councils supporting the new proposal. The Secretary of State can’t start moving pieces around as if on a chess board to produce his own solution and in any case finances dictate that Dorset doesn’t have the time for such manoeuvres
So, what might they discuss?
Prior to the Council debate and decision, we put on our thinking hats and identified the following key topics.
With our business backgrounds, unsurprisingly our first action would be to conduct a full initial analysis of:

The risks associated with the opportunities and their potential mitigation

The identification of both strong and weak points in the existing set-up

The prioritisation of targets which, given the financial situation, would entail giving priority to relatively easy cost savings with more radical ventures to follow

A full assessment of the resources available (particularly the identification of skilled officers with an assessment of their likely availability to the project)

An implementation plan backed by critical path analysis.

Second, the democratic structure of the new council. There will be fewer councillors in the new set up. How will local democracy be encouraged? How will local knowledge be incorporated into decision making processes?

West Sussex has launched ‘Your Voice – The People’s Panel’, which is an online community of people who have volunteered to be regularly consulted about local matters that affect them.

The programme is open to anyone living in West Sussex. Once registered, members will be sent links to surveys which give them a chance to voice their opinion. Subsequently they will be able to see how key decisions were affected by their action.

This possibility should be investigated for us as well as the possibility of introducing Area Boards of residents for locations such as Highcliffe, Stanpit, and West Christchurch.

Third, on what basis will Christchurch be transferred out of rural Dorset and into the new Council.

This is an important technical matter that requires careful work to ensure the equitable treatment of all tax payers

Fourth, how will Council Tax be harmonised across Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole. Currently, a band D property in Poole carries a lower tax burden than the same property in Bournemouth and both are taxed less than an equivalent property in Christchurch.

Why not just reduce Council Tax in Christchurch and Bournemouth down to Poole’s level? Because that would mean a huge loss of income to the new council that it can’t afford.

Why not raise Poole and Bournemouth to the Christchurch level? Because that would mean increases well above the Government capping level.

So, some mixed approach spread over several years is what is required – and that means negotiation both between the councils and potentially with the Treasury. A skilled negotiator should be able to obtain a reduction in your Council Tax – but please don’t spend your savings just yet

Lastly, what will happen to the current Local Plans including the protection of the Green Belt? 

A task that we suspect requires first analysis of those plans, second a proposed rationalisation, third negotiation of a new agreed position, finally a public consultation.

Within all this, we must not lose sight of our overall objectives. What matters is the level of council tax that we pay; the quality and type of services that we receive in return; the degree to which we can influence decision making; and the on-going solvency of our overall council (not just Christchurch). We will continue to monitor progress against those measures.

CBC Councillors? Thankfully they voted to take up their places on the Joint Committee and to participate in discussions.
Community Matters is produced and edited by a team of local residents who try to present you with the facts that will both keep you informed and enable you to make up your own mind on local issues
Jumpers and St Catherine's Hill RA

Dorset Police

Crime Rates


Cost of Repairs

More Buses Cut

Council Reorganization
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Christchurch, England BH23 2RJ
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