Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters Issue 6 - November 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
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Our Local Roads
Christchurch Bypass
It's not just Dorset
2018 Boundary Review
Fly Tipping
Local Government Reorganisation
The Secretary of State Speaks

A little early this month, partly because much has happened, partly because the Secretary of State has finally come off the fence

Our thanks to DCC Officers who gave a presentation on our local roads to a packed hall at our meeting on 26th October

Split Responsibility

We learned that Central Government’s role as a highway authority is discharged through Highways England (a Government company) that are responsible for the operation, maintenance and improvement of motorways and major A roads. In Dorset this is the A31-A35 east-west highway.

They confirmed that DCC are the authority for most roads in Dorset. They regularly inspect the surface, the barriers, the bridges etc., and repair as necessary.

Bournemouth and Poole Councils are the authority for all roads within their boundary – so local responsibility, finance and bargaining power are split three ways.

CBC has no direct responsibility for public highways.

Improvement schemes can be initiated by County Councillors, Town and Parish Councils and DCC officers. Such schemes are, if approved by the DCC Transport Planning team in Dorchester, fed into the transport plan.

A scheme must have broad local support, be affordable, offer value for money and be deliverable (environmental factors for example may make a scheme impossible or prohibitively expensive).

Competing schemes are then ranked by Dorchester according to their potential positive impact on: economic growth; climate change; safety, security and health

Looking at the planned housing development at Roeshot Hill, the DCC team have identified issues of safety and capacity on the A35.

Several schemes have been prepared by the developer in consultation with DCC to mitigate the impact on local roads.

These involve safety work on the A35 Lyndhurst Road including a new speed limit and improvements to the capacity of the Stony Lane roundabout.

Progress on the A338 improvements at Blackwater Junction can be found here 

Also, be prepared for A35 Barrack Road, night closure 9pm - 6am, 13 November to 17 November and B3059 Stour Road, night closure 9pm - 6am, 20 November to 24 November.

Report problems here  or via Dorset Direct on 01305 221020

Planned parking restrictions on Fairmile Road are currently being processed and this involves consultation with the police, CBC and County Councillors.
The liveliest debate of the evening centred around a Christchurch Bypass
DCC told us that such a scheme would cost between £38m and £79m and DCC have made it clear to CBC that for them this is unaffordable in the current climate.

CBC would need to gain support from the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and they are currently focused on improving access to the airport to create jobs.

The bypass ranks below this major scheme and work to improve the port of Poole.

This perspective caused our local Councillors to get involved in the debate.

Margaret Phipps pointed out that the last investigation into a Christchurch Bypass came about following pressure from Christchurch rather than proactive activity in Dorchester.

Sue Spittle enlarged upon that by reference to historical activity.

Colin Bungey highlighted how Dorchester mistreats Christchurch. "We are neglected" he said. "It's as if Christchurch doesn't exist". For this he received an enthusiastic round of applause from residents.

It was one of the best combined arguments we’ve heard for a local integrated transport system designed by local people using local knowledge to best suit local needs – remote management from Dorchester doesn’t work.

Perhaps Christchurch could combine with Bournemouth and Poole to form a local powerhouse with financial muscle?
We’re becoming familiar with DCC spending more than it takes in – but it’s not alone.

On our doorstep Hampshire has major problems. Because of the rising cost of adult social care - like services for the elderly - it faces a budget shortfall of £140 million. This is on top of £340 million of savings made since 2008

We have been reporting for some time now, the extent of the financial challenge that Councils face.

In response, a think tank has made a proposal to Central Government to place control of more than £100bn of key public services – including the NHS – under 38 “super councils”.

With some very bold thinking, the report suggests that NHS England be scrapped completely, with control of its services distributed to 38 new authorities covering the entire country.

That may or may not be a clever idea.

What is of interest is that such proposals are aimed at creating a more efficient and targeted system in the UK based on the principal that local leadership is better able to deal with people’s needs than remote governance.

The Boundary Commission for England has published its revised proposals for new constituency boundaries

Proposals and maps can be found here 

The eight-week public consultation period will run until 11 December 2017.

National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Action Fraud have contacted us with details of the latest scam.

Fraudsters have been setting up fake adverts on social media (including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and job browsing websites to dupe people into believing they are recruiting for prospective models (either adults or children).

Once victims show interest, the fraudsters contact them on the false promise of a modelling career for them or their child and subsequently advise the victims to come in for a test shoot once they have paid an upfront fee.

The fraudsters will take the advance fee and arrange a photo shoot with the victim. After the photo shoot, the fraudsters will contact the victim and convince them that their shoot was successful and offer them a job as a model. The victim will then be asked to sign a contract and pay another upfront fee to secure a modelling contract.

In August 2017, 49 reports of this fraud type were received, and numbers continue to rise. The total loss in August 2017 was over £71,000.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting action fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Instances of fly-tipping across England have reached one million over the past year.
Figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show that nationwide there has been a 7% increase in incidents compared to last year.

In Dorset, it is costing us thousands of pounds as the number of incidents significantly exceeds the national average. 2,630 cases were recorded across Dorset in 2016-17 an increase of 19%

Director of the Dorset Waste Partnership, Karyn Punchard, said: “Like most counties, Dorset is subject to persistent fly-tipping and the number of incidences is on the increase, following a national trend. On top of the obvious damage to the environment, the clearance of this waste costs the DWP around £110,000 per year.”

Councils have urged the government to allow more “hard-hitting” penalties for the offence. The LGA says it would make an enormous difference to the problem if they could come down harder on people who are caught.

Last September, DCC introduced charges for disposing of specific items at household recycling centres. In their last public consultation on this topic we told DCC that cutting back on the frequency of refuse collection and making it more difficult and more expensive to dispose of some household items will inevitably lead to fly-tipping. It seems that we were right

Has there ever been a more challenging time for financial planners?

As they attempt to make prudent plans consider the environment they’re wrestling with.

The Government did not reintroduce the Local Government Finance Bill in the Queen’s speech after the June 2017 election. The Bill had set out the framework that would have allowed local government in England to keep all the £26m it collects in business rates. The position is unclear.

The “fair funding” review also appears to have been side-lined as the Government concentrates on Brexit negotiations. This review would have examined the outdated funding formulas that are used by Central Government to distribute resources to local government, and which DCC along with other rural councils, consider to be unfair.

The impact of Brexit itself is largely unclear.

Starting in 2019-20 Councils including CBC will pay a new tax to Central Government euphemistically labelled a Tariff Adjustment. Christchurch will pay £375k and this is the main driver for a CBC budget deficit being identified in 2019-20.  Worse, how the Tariff Adjustment will be calculated from 2020-21 is not known and adds considerable uncertainty to financial planning.

Out of all that planners are supposed to produce a budget for the next 5 years. We wish them well!

On your behalf we attended the first Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole Joint Committee meeting of 30th October 2017 in Poole Council Offices.

Our report can be found here and click on latest changes

The committee comprises 16 full members in proportion to their population (8 from BBC, 6 from PBC, 2 from CBC). Also in attendance are 2 representatives of DCC to address the issue of disaggregation (untangling Christchurch from DCC).

CBC is playing a full part and has undertaken not to disrupt the process

A new website has been created where you can find agendas, minutes, submitted papers, etc.

An interesting paper on Council Tax Harmonisation by CBC Strategic Director Ian Milner was accepted but gave rise to some comment and debate.

Central Government have made some changes to their original stance, for example the maximum 20-year period to harmonisation has been reduced to 10 years.

They will also allow BBC and PBC to potentially increase their Council Tax by more than the 2% level that would otherwise trigger a referendum. Christchurch (as part of DCC) currently has the highest level of Council Tax, Poole the lowest.

We calculate that by freezing local Council Tax for 5 years and during the same period increasing Poole Council Tax by 3% and Bournemouth by 2.5% each year the tax will be harmonised across the conurbation.

We’re not saying that is what will happen because altering the differing variables such as time taken, and tax rises assumed leads to different results – but it would be something like our illustration.

Central Government have laid down that if Christchurch decides to create a Town Council within the new unitary (as suggested in our October newsletter) then Christchurch residents must not pay any more than if the Town Council didn’t exist.

Thus, if the 11% of Council Tax that currently funds CBC was to continue to be used to fund the new Town Council then the new unitary would lose that 11% just as DCC does now.

The Secretary of State announced on 7th November that he is minded to support the Future Dorset proposal for local government reorganisation (which will see the existing nine councils replaced with two new unitary authorities).

The full announcement from the Secretary of State is available online 

The Secretary of State will now allow a period until 8th January 2018 during which representations in support or opposition to his decision can be made.

In December our newsletter will give further information on this topic

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

We are run by a committee of volunteers and a team of helpers who give their time free of charge in an effort to protect the environment that we all enjoy whilst living in this beautiful area
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