Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters January 2018

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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Help for the homeless
Prosecuting hate crime
Cost of policing
Parish Councils
Minister gains greater responsibility
CBC alternative proposal to Future Dorset
DCC give their views
Chairman's annual statement
Happy New Year
Help for the Homeless
An organisation called Julian House has been appointed to provide a Rough Sleepers Outreach service in Christchurch.

Julian House was set up to offer direct support to homeless people and have 30 years’ experience in working with rough sleepers, mainly in the South West.

Initially, their service was limited to offering food and shelter but over time other projects and services have developed. These not only address the symptoms of homelessness but also the underlying reasons why men and women are on the streets.

Julian House works with rough sleepers, those that are insecurely housed and at risk of rough sleeping and those leading street based lifestyles which may involve begging and street drinking.

If you have concerns about someone sleeping rough, you can alert the authorities via Street

The details you provide are sent to Julian House and the relevant council for the area in which you have seen the person. This helps pinpoint the exact location of the individual and connect them to support. 

Prosecuting Hate Crime
Hate crime occurs when a person is targeted because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability. Dorset has one of the highest conviction rates in the country for these offences.

Figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show in 2016-17 there were 106 prosecutions for hate crime in Dorset with 98 cases resulting in a conviction – a rate of 92.5 per cent.

Of the 14 CPS areas in England and Wales, Wessex – comprising Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Wiltshire – topped the tables with 90.1 per cent of hate crimes prosecuted in 2016-17 resulting in conviction.

Cost of Policing to Rise
The Government has given Police and Crime Commissioners additional flexibility to be able to raise their local policing charge (called a precept) by £12 a year. 
This would generate around £3.4m of additional funding in Dorset. (About 11% of your Council Tax pays for the police)

Martyn Underhill, local Police and Crime Commissioner, has said:

It cannot be right that the Government keeps asking the taxpayers of Dorset to pay more for policing every year.

My dilemma is that if I do not consider a rise, Dorset Police will struggle to keep up with demand and to deliver an acceptable service.

Dorset has saved £37.3m since 2010-11 but further savings are required
Parish Councils
At the request of CBC, we attended a teach-in on Parish Councils. 
They are mini-versions of Town Councils that concern themselves with a defined local area. Hurn has a Parish Council.

If we had one here, we probably wouldn’t need a Residents Association as well.

Parish Councils are a vehicle for enabling the views of something like a village to be properly represented to the local Council. A defined, slightly isolated community coming together to express its views. There are several in rural Dorset.

We can’t see that our urban area would benefit greatly but we need to hear from you.

We’ve arranged a feed-back form on which you will be asked the following questions:

Would you support the idea of creating a Parish Council in Jumpers and St Catherine's YES/NO

Would you be prepared to pay say £2 extra each month on your Council Tax to pay for it YES/NO

Would you be prepared to stand for election onto the Parish Council YES/NO

What is your postcode

Please complete the form, by clicking here
Minister Gains Greater Responsibility
Housing and Community’s secretary Sajid Javid has launched a new agency aimed at helping the government reach its 300,000 new homes a year building target. This is the first major housing decision made by Sajid Javid since he was given greater responsibility for homes in the recent cabinet reshuffle.

The organisation, named Homes England, will have new land buying powers so that it can focus on securing space for housebuilding in areas where people want to live. It is also tasked with supporting smaller house building companies to get into the market, as well as resourcing new brownfield sites where homes could be built.

Homes England will also be expected to assist small businesses, a task to which the government has allotted around £750m (out of a £1bn short term housing fund).

Nick Walkley, chief executive of the new organisation, said: “As Homes England, we will use our land, finance and expertise to expand the delivery of affordable new homes and connect ambitious partners to remove barriers to house building.

As well as finding sites for new construction, Homes England is expected to push forward with new methods of building which are faster and more efficient.

Christchurch Council Alternative Proposal to Future Dorset

For the past eleven months CBC have had a responsibility to their Council Tax payers to do more than just reject the Future Dorset proposal currently with the Secretary of State.

Throughout that time, they have remained silent until now finally, they have produced a paper dated 19th December 2017 titled, Further representation to the Secretary of State in response to a proposal for Local Government Reorganisation in Bournemouth."

This document was discussed at an extraordinary council meeting on 2nd January 2018 where it was approved by majority vote as an official Council submission and then sent to the Secretary of State.

CBC propose that Bournemouth and Poole form a unitary and that the remainder of Dorset remains unchanged. That is a variation on option 2(c) in the original public consultation.

There has been no due diligence undertaken on the viability of this proposal; there is no analysis of the impact upon other Councils; and no evidence is cited to support its sustainability.

Both Bournemouth and Poole have already stated unequivocally that they do not support this proposal.

No other Council in Dorset has expressed support for it.

The Dorset public have not been consulted and were it to be progressed, they would have to be - an exercise that would cost the tax payer at least £400,000.

There is little in the CBC proposal that couldn’t have been produced months ago. CBC have had a great deal of time to prepare this document but have waited until now to spring it upon us and predictably they ask for a deadline extension.

Their proposal has not been subject to public scrutiny and if pursued would result in a delay of a minimum of six months to a year whilst also incurring huge costs for the public purse.

We have produced a full independent analysis of the CBC proposal. If you want to read it click here

It could be suggested that rather than being a serious attempt to put forward a viable alternative to 2(b), this CBC proposal is in fact a deliberate delaying tactic.

It would probably not be the first time. Their foray into Hampshire was undertaken without first completing a SWOT analysis (confirmed in an e-mail to us from CBC Democratic Services on behalf of Councillor Flagg dated 22nd December 2017.A SWOT analysis is what professional negotiators undertake before engaging in talks. It’s an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats).

They thus did no financial analysis and either didn’t know that such a move would escalate their overheads to the point where they would have to cut benefits (as was confirmed to us by CBC CEO David McIntosh at a minuted meeting on 27th November 2017) or more likely, they didn’t care – because they were simply trying to cause frustration and delay.
But Dorset County Council (amongst others) can’t afford delay and to deliberately ask for it is to show how little regard CBC has for the needs of the rest of Dorset

DCC Give Their Views

DCC wrote two letters to the Secretary of State and in both they expressed their dissatisfaction with CBC. The following are all slightly edited quotations taken from these letters. The full unedited letters can be found on our website and click on latest changes/2018:

DCC on the suggested move to Hampshire

We have a pan-Dorset solution which transcends issues of local concern and has extensive support from public bodies, the Local Enterprise Partnership, residents, town and parish councils and others.

There has been no approach to the County Council to consider the basis for a proposal of this kind.

Given that 80% of Local Government services delivered across Christchurch are the current responsibility of Dorset County Council it seems incomprehensible that any assumption is being made that this could happen without reference to this Authority

Unfortunately, this shows the lack of consideration of the main ambition of the Future Dorset proposal, to put public service aspiration before organisational sovereignty. 
DCC on the Referendum

It was most disappointing to see a referendum campaign based on misleading and inaccurate information being circulated, that had not been validated by the County Council or indeed by Christchurch Borough Council.

This was both before and while the poll was open, and must introduce the question of bias in the process and undermine the validity of the findings.

Misleading material has been deposited in the local library, which would convey a message to the public that the County Council supported the content, which we absolutely did not, and we did not consent to this distribution.

More misleading information was displayed on noticeboards and other public spaces. We understand another council has provided you with a detailed list of these inaccuracies, so will not repeat them, but  would urge you to judge the outcome against this background. 

DCC on the CBC Alternative Structure

There are suggestions being made that County Council services, including social service, could be seamlessly delivered in the future using a different model of delivery for Christchurch.

This would not be something we could agree to.

It is also with significant regret that we must dispute some of the content in the draft representation that Christchurch Borough Council discussed on 2 January 2018.

The opportunity to check facts was once again not taken, despite an offer being made.

There is a great deal that one could take issue with, but the Council’s claim that the financial challenges facing the County Council have significantly reduced is misleading and quoting the County Council’s own Chief Finance Officer was out of context, and inappropriate.

(Our comment: DCC is currently projected to spend £4million more than its income in 2017-18 according to papers presented to DCC Cabinet in January 2018)
Chairman’s Annual Statement
Once a year we must endure the ramblings of our Chairman
If you want to read his report for 2017 click here

One key passage needs to be reproduced here:

Two of our committee have decided to stand down as they believe that the end of the reorganisation debate is in sight and in 2018 onwards we will be faced with a new beginning. John Cooper, retired Borough Treasurer, and David Barnett, our long serving Treasurer and retired Director of a city company.

John was a key source of valuable information. David and I worked very well together, our skills and experience dovetailing beautifully. I shall miss their insight and financial acumen.

I must also express my personal thanks to the rest of our committee who all worked very hard throughout 2017. 

This means that we have a vacancy on our committee. If you feel you could contribute and would like to discuss the matter, please get in touch. If you have an accountancy background that would be particularly useful.

2018 is likely to see a lot of work on how a local authority should be structured, how local democracy should work within that structure, and what role a Residents Association should play.

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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Christchurch, England BH23 2RJ
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