Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters February 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
If you can't see our logo above and at the end of the newsletter, make sure you have clicked the link to download pictures

Spotlight on CBC Planning
Pollution at the Hospital
Dorset Care Record
Dorset Police and Crime Figures
Chapel Gate Repairs
A forward looking South West
Council Tax 2018-19
Parish Councils
The Secretary of State speaks

The Local Government Association (LGA) Planning Advisory Service has undertaken a review of CBC planning procedures and performance.

The council had been identified as not functioning as well as might be expected based on the number of appeals against decisions that were subsequently upheld by the Planning Inspectorate

The LGA report (which you can read in full on our website under Council Affairs) follows a visit to CBC on 8 and 9 November 2017 when officers and councillors were interviewed.

Our officers are to be congratulated as they have clearly worked hard to achieve some improvements.

During the visit several Christchurch councillors raised concerns about the behaviour of a few of their colleagues and felt that their actions could harm the reputation of the committee.

A committee meeting was observed and recordings of previous meetings of the Christchurch Committee were also viewed. 

The behaviour of three councillors did give cause for some concern.  The LGA report that one adopted a somewhat mocking tone, raised procedural issues, and prematurely suggested refusal of one item on the agenda.

The fact that the motion to refuse was tabled so early in the consideration of the application, before any debate, suggested that the councillor had in his own mind predetermined the case.

We are concerned that this exposure of potential predetermination could open the door to failed applicants from the immediate past resubmitting their case, going to the Ombudsman or even asking for a judicial review.


We understand that one of the councillors in question subsequently refused to attend training sessions as he considered it was unnecessary in his case. It does seem to us that the Leader of the Council, Councillor Flagg, should now take some corrective action

Last month we told you about Julian House being appointed to help the homeless in Christchurch. 

This prompted some of you to ask how big a problem homelessness is locally.

On 25 January 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government released the autumn 2017 figures for rough sleeping.

These statistics are based on counts and estimates carried out by Local Authorities in England, providing a snapshot figure of the number of people sleeping rough on any one night.

A total of 4,751 people was counted or estimated by local authorities to be sleeping rough in England on any one night in autumn 2017, representing a 15% increase from the 2016 figure of 4,134.  Of those 580 were in the South West (up from 536 in 2016)

In dealing with homelessness, prevention is far better than cure. Under the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 all local authorities need to provide effective advice and support to eligible households at an early stage to try to avoid them reaching a homeless crisis.

It requires local housing authorities to provide homelessness services to all people in their area and expands the categories of people who they must help to find accommodation. It will have a significant impact on the homelessness activities performed by local authorities including new statistical and performance data.

In the period 1st July to 30th September 2017, 365 households in our area asked for housing and homelessness advice (222 in Christchurch and 143 in East Dorset). This was an increase of 53 cases from the previous quarter (167 for Christchurch and 145 for East Dorset).

18 households were accepted as homeless with a full statutory duty falling on their council (12 for Christchurch and 6 for East Dorset). This was an increase of 3 cases from the previous quarter total of 15 (13 for Christchurch and 2 for East Dorset).

Kier Construction was commissioned by The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to carry out  work at Christchurch Hospital in February 2012.

They appointed BKP Waste Recycling Limited to drain and remove oil from an oil supply line in the hospital grounds.

Oil escaped from a poorly-made connection in the oil supply pipework in November 2014. The spillage polluted groundwater.

A court case was bought by the Environment Agency. Kier Construction Limited, and their sub-contractor BKP Waste Recycling Limited, pleaded guilty to an offence and were sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on 12 January 2018.

Keir was fined £100,000 with £30,000 costs and BKP was fined £10,000 with £42,000 costs

Ian Withers of the Environment Agency said:

This pollution incident had the potential to cause serious harm to the environment and was entirely avoidable.

The two companies failed to understand the extent of the work required and mitigate the risks. Construction companies must adhere to regulations to prevent their activities from affecting the local environment.

If you are concerned about pollution to water or land, contact our 24-hour incident line on 0800 807060.

At present, health and social care organisations in Dorset may hold different sets of records about you.

Information in different records may be duplicated or incomplete. The Dorset Care Record is a new confidential computer record that will, over time, include a range of health and social care shared information to help improve the care you receive.

Sharing appropriate information electronically to a single place will offer direct access for authorised health and social care professionals to provide as full a picture as possible of your history, needs, support and service contacts. It will join records and systems together for the first time in Dorset.

In the longer term, the aim is to offer you access to your record.

Dorset Police has launched a new online knowledge-base designed to help the public find answers to common enquiries and guide them to the right agencies.

The online service is quick and easy to use. It is an alphabetical list of topics the police commonly receive enquiries about, along with details of the agencies who can help you.

Click here to access the Ask-Ned knowledge-base 


For the twelve months ending September 2017, the Office for National Statistics reports violent crime across Dorset rose by 13% from 12,216 to 13,745, with sexual offences rising by 14% from 1,295 to 1,478 and domestic burglaries increasing by 40% from 1,538 to 2,146.

Worryingly violence with injury rose 22% from 4,232 to 5,134, the third highest increase across all police forces in England and Wales.

Overall, total recorded crime in Dorset rose by 9%, which is lower than the national average of 15%. Some of this increase is down to improvements in the way crime is recorded, which does suggest that crime has been under recorded in years past. 

Repairs to the new surface at Chapel Gate Roundabout have been scheduled for March. The remedial work will be carried out at no cost to DCC or Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

DCC report that the deterioration of the road surface has been caused by a combination of factors including: the specification of the original material used; the position in the road of the joins in that material; and the cold ground conditions when the original work was undertaken.

Firms developing driverless car technology and 5G mobile networks are among the companies helping to make the South West one of Britain’s start up hubs.

According to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss:

Latest figures show the economy in the South West is now worth more than £127 billion and is the second fastest growing UK regional economy with year-on-year growth of more than 4%.

The government is giving enterprise the freedom it needs to succeed. From Cornwall to Christchurch, The South West is buzzing with ambition and attracting interest and investment from around the world.

We can only hope that our Councillors have the vision to enable local business to grasp this opportunity which will benefit us all

DCC faces a 60 per cent drop in its core funding by 2020 – the second highest percentage drop amongst the 37 counties in England.

Dorset has been badly affected by recent changes to local authority funding – specifically the creation of the new Government tax on Local Authorities known as the “negative revenue support grant”. This will amount to £10 million to be paid by DCC to Central Government in 2019/20.

DCC's chief financial officer, Richard Bates, described this as "utterly bizarre."

It seems likely that as a result in Dorset bus services, children’s centres, and libraries will have to be cut. It is possible that additional charges will be introduced for such things as social care services. There will certainly be less money for road maintenance and pothole repairs.

In developing the 2018/19 budget, DCC had to take account of the forecast overall overspend in 2017/18 of £4.1 million and of course the large actual overspend that occurred in 2016/17. 

Because of inflation, the recent Central Government finance settlement allowed DCC to increase basic council tax by just under 3% in 2018/19.

In addition, DCC will also levy a 3% adult social care charge meaning an overall increase of just less than 6% in our council tax and that’s what we should budget for.

Children’s Services is forecasting an overspend in 2017/18 of £6.8m.  Although the overall number of looked after children has reduced from a peak of 506 in August 2016 to 446 in December 2017, it has not reached the rather optimistic 400 that were budgeted for. 

The pressure on the school’s budget continues with the High Needs sector now expected to overspend by £4.3m in 2017/18. 

DCC have also assumed a 2% national rise in pay for local authority staff. But trade unions Unison and Unite have voted to reject that offer and to consult their members.

The unions argue that inflation, coupled with a nearly 4% rise in housing costs, means that the current offer would see staff hit by a real-terms pay cut.

This is the first time in eight years that a public sector pay offer has been made which is above 1%. Pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year, and since 2013 rises have been capped at 1% - below the rate of inflation.

CBC have also reviewed their capital spending. They have tried to ensure that 96% of the programme is allocated to 2017/18 and 2018/19. The idea is to ensure that most of the Council’s current capital resources are spent in Christchurch before the formation of the proposed new council with Bournemouth and Poole.

Last month we asked for your views on possibly creating a Parish Council of Jumpers and St Catherine’s wards.

This newsletter goes to over 1,600 people. Of those, 40 people completed the survey - clearly this is not a topic that grabs our member's attention


25 say NO to a Parish Council; 15 say YES

26 say NO to paying extra Council Tax to fund it; 14 say YES

34 say NO to personally standing for election; 6 say YES


There is no geographic concentration of returns – so it’s not more or less popular in one area as against any other


Based upon that evidence we have told CBC that there is very little interest in this topic amongst our members and it might prove difficult to form and sustain such a council.

After CBC submitted their alternative proposal (see our January Newsletter)  the Secretary of State replied to CBC Leader Councillor Flagg on 16th January – you can read his letter on the website and click "latest changes 2018"


This is the most important bit:
“…. where a Council puts forward an alternative proposal during the representation period I would be prepared to allow time for that proposal to be fully worked up where I considered that there was a likelihood that the proposal could be implemented and improve local government in the area.
However, I do not consider that the alternative proposal that your Council has outlined has any realistic likelihood of being implemented.”

The Secretary of State goes on to outline how the CBC alternative proposal fails to meet Government criteria for such submissions. We don’t know why Councillor Flagg didn’t check this before tendering the proposal, just as he didn’t consult DCC or undertake any financial analysis before he went to see Hampshire Council.


Although the letter from the Secretary of State arrived with Councillor Flagg on 18th January, it was only made available to Councillors and the public on 2nd February. It is not clear to us what caused the delay – perhaps Councillor Flagg could explain.

According to the Echo, CBC chief executive David McIntosh is furious because the letter from the Secretary of State refers to Cllr Flagg’s claim that he ‘had difficulty... obtaining information from CBC officers.’
In a statement David McIntosh said:
“The leader wrote to the Secretary of State on 21 December and officers were unaware of this until the Secretary of State’s response was received.

Myself and the Strategic Director for Finance both believed the letter to be inaccurate and misleading and asked the Leader to write to the Secretary of State to correct this.

The Leader refused to do so and has subsequently circulated the Secretary of State’s letter.”

Councillor Flagg is no stranger to inaccurate and misleading statements. In his covering letter to the CBC submission to the Secretary of State dated 4th January 2018 he said when referring to the CBC referendum:
"It is no surprise to us that in that poll 84% of people in the Borough tell us that they do not want Christchurch to be part of a large and distant unitary Council with Bournemouth and Poole."
The turnout was 54% so it’s hard to see how his statement can be accurate. What he probably means is 84% of the 54% that voted - say 45% of those on the Christchurch electoral register (which is not the same as “the people in the Borough”). These two mistakes create a very misleading statement.
He then compounds that by referring to Bournemouth and Poole as “distant”. CBC is currently a second-tier council under the management of DCC. We won't even ask how he deduces that Bournemouth and Poole are more remote than Dorchester!

We are still waiting for the Secretary of State to give his decision on plans for Dorset. That is due imminently.

It will be followed by a full Christchurch Council meeting.

Once the outcome of that is known we will issue a special newsletter giving you as full a picture as we can.

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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