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Community Matters March 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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Members Meeting
Our Council Tax
National Audit Office
Our NHS Performance
Bournemouth Airport
Dorset Recycling Performance
Local Enterprise Partnership
Future Dorset
Members – Wednesday 18th April - a date for your diary

In June 2017 the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service gained a new Chairman – our old friend Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of East Dorset District Council – who has been a member of the Fire Authority for the past 12 years.  

He took up his new post at a time of significant challenges for the service. According to the National Audit Office, since 2010 there has been a 17% reduction in funding for this service. Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Services combined in April 2016, make saving in operating costs across the service. 

Councillor Spencer Flower has kindly agreed to let us know how he’s getting on, and how he sees the service developing in the future, at our member’s meeting on Wednesday the 18th of April in The Hall on the Hill, Marlow Drive, at 7.30pm. He will be accompanied by Area Commander – Craig Baker.
Our Council Tax Increase

As expected our Council Tax is up by nearly 6%. For Band D residents will pay about £189 a month for 10 months and for Band E about £231 a month for 10 months

Meanwhile, according to the Department for Transport's latest figures, total passenger journeys by bus in Dorset dropped from 10 million in 2015-2016 to 8.7 million in 2016-2017; this represents a drop of close to a quarter from the decade's peak of 11.1 million passenger journeys in 2010-2011.

That’s what happens when people have a bus pass but no bus service!

At a DCC cabinet meeting, councillors approved the disposal of some of their farm land to tackle financial pressures on the council budget. A report said the move could release around £9.7 million in capital receipts in the next five years with a potential £7 million realised in the first two years.

It has also been revealed that in the twelve months to September 2017 nearly one in five social workers dealing with children and families in Dorset left their jobs. Statistics from the Department for Education show the turnover rate was 18.4 per cent in these crucial roles protecting vulnerable children, a clear indication of high stress levels.

The National Audit Office has warned central government that the state of local authority finances is “not sustainable” 
They point out that many authorities, such as Dorset, have been forced to use their savings reserves to combat “a range of new demand and cost pressures 

There has been a real-terms reduction in government funding of nearly 50% since 2010. This has hit font-line services most prominently, with nearly a third of households across the country having their waste collected less frequently and one in ten libraries closing.

In addition to other reductions, they found a 52% reduction in spending on planning and development, 45% reduction on housing, 37% less spent on highways and transport, and around 35% less spending on cultural and related services.


Meanwhile, MPs will receive a pay increase of 1.8% for 2018-19, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has revealed. This will raise their basic salary to £77,379 from 1st April 2018. The latest rise means that MPs’ basic pay will have increased by £11,641 since April 2010 (that’s about 17.5%).

NHS Services during the Winter

Chief Operating Officer, Richard Renaut, said:

We treated 92.6% of all patients arriving in Emergency Department (ED) within four hours of their arrival. This placed us among the top performing trusts nationally.   

Access to ED is, according to the Royal Colleges, the single best sign of a system that is working - from GP, ambulance, ED, wards and home. It’s what you’d want for any family member needing emergency care. 

Ambulance attendances in December were 15.6% higher than last December and the service remains very busy. We are grateful to everyone who has been using NHS 111 to seek advice if they have been unsure where to get treatment, rather than coming to ED. 

The decision to reorganise Dorset’s hospital services could be thrown into doubt after the group challenging the proposals, Defend Dorset NHS, gained permission for a full judicial review.

In his message to governors, Chief Executive Tony Spotswood said:

"This challenge has the potential to delay the hospital merger and the proposed reconfiguration of services and delay the benefits for patients."
He said they are taking legal advice on how to respond to the challenge.  On our website you’ll find a paper we’ve prepared that explains for you in plain English what a Judicial Review is and how costly it could be. Click on “latest changes”.

The transition from Manchester Airport Group to Regional and City Airports should be complete by the autumn.
Their strategy is to provide local people with a credible alternative to the London airports by increasing the range of services available for both business and leisure customers. We suspect that they may need to look a little closer to home with Southampton currently having better road, rail and parking facilities.

One of the first things the new owners did was to review the drop-off charge and they have decided that it must remain in place for the present.

They believe that Bournemouth has the right ingredients for growth in terms of size of population, demographic mix, a diverse local business community and being geographically closer to key European markets than other UK airports.  Europe’s two leading low-cost airlines are already present at Bournemouth.

Passenger numbers for 2017-18 amounted to 647,000, against a budget of 632,000.  The increase was due to the introduction of a year-round Ryanair Krakow flight and high load factors on all other routes.  Costs are on budget.

We have been working together with the Hall on the Hill Committee to get the Marlow Drive car park resurfaced. We’re pleased to say that arrangements have been made by the landlord’s agent to start work in April 2018

Dorset is currently the best performing county-wide local authority with a recycling rate of 59.4%. We are also amongst the lowest producers of black bag waste in the country, with a 196.3kg per household per year compared to a UK average of 239.7kg


Based upon independent analysis, the weight of rubbish collected in black bin has reduced by 45.5%. However, Dorset black bag rubbish still contains significant quantities of recyclable material.

Up to 35% of the weight of all Dorset’s rubbish could be recycled if materials were separated and disposed of in the correct bin. Food waste makes up over half of all potential recyclable material.


Although Dorset has good level of food recycling when compared with other authorities, maintaining its focus upon food recycling performance remains a priority.

You can find out more about where our recycling goes  

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership
These are the people who manage strategic investment in Dorset. Director Lorna Carver said:

The government’s announcement of its support for two new authorities in Dorset, streamlining the nine councils that currently exist, is fantastic news for Dorset. It will help us, working with the new councils, to be more influential on the national stage and to be better equipped to secure funding for vital infrastructure.

The Dorset LEP will be looking to support economic growth throughout Dorset and will be working closely with the two Local Authorities to tackle issues which are currently holding back businesses 


As you know, the Secretary of State has given the go-ahead for Future Dorset.

Christchurch Council decided to see if it could challenge that decision.

It hired a QC Nathalie Lieven, one of the UK's leading silks, who specialises in energy, public law, human rights, planning and environmental law. She appears regularly in the High Court, Court of Appeal, planning inquiries and a range of tribunals. She regularly represents central government and local authorities.

Go to our website to read her full legal opinion (which cost council tax payers £6,000 including VAT) plus our explanatory note on what a Judicial Review is (both reports written in plain English)

She stated: My instructions refer in the most general terms to a range of potential causes of action, but I cannot see that any of them have a reasonable chance of success

Based on the QC's opinion, Christchurch called an Extraordinary Council Meeting on 13th March to debate the following position statement:

In recognition of the latest position and the fact that the legal process to dissolve the council has begun the focus should now be on getting the best outcome for Christchurch residents in the circumstances and making every effort to influence the Joint Committee

However, before it met the Council Leader received a letter from local MP Sir Christopher Chope in which he stated that it was essential that CBC spend more of our money by going back to the QC to raise further legal points that he described to try to secure a judicial review.

We have done some research into the matters raised and the following points are pertinent:

Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Councils approached the Secretary of State and asked for permission to implement Future Dorset. This is not something Central Government is trying to impose. No resident will lose any existing rights. These are key factors.

A judge looks at what an Act says not what a Minister says in debate. An application for a Judicial Review based upon ministerial comments in the House would not succeed on that basis.

The leader of Hampshire Council unambiguously refused to countenance Christchurch joining them 

The Christchurch “poll” has no status either in law or in consultation requirements 

Alternative proposals could not be considered because that would have been illegal 

No ministerial quote or Act states that unanimity is required amongst councils. A proposal for Buckinghamshire recently secured a “minded to grant” decision even though it was not unanimous.

he following edited comments from a ministerial reply as recorded in Hansard on 1st December 2017 is relevant:

Question: Can my hon. Friend confirm that the responses from the councils, when they discuss the consultation and indeed the recommendations, do not have to be unanimous across all nine for a submission ?to be made to his Department?
Answer: Technically, my hon. Friend is right, but our Department is clear that we want any reforms to be locally driven, and once a local area has its blueprint for any reforms we will listen carefully, and the Secretary of State will decide whether the reforms are acceptable to him.
The Government remain 100% committed to being open to innovative bottom-up proposals that will improve local services, enhance accountability and deliver financial sustainability. We welcome local government pursuing and discussing these ideas, particularly when done, as in Dorset, collaboratively and constructively.

The Council voted 14-7 to reject the position statement described above and instead to do as the MP had suggested and seek further legal opinion. Both votes were “recorded” so that how each Councillor voted is in the public domain.

We await the outcome. If they succeed in halting this reorganisation it will be a very short lived and pyrrhic victory. Dorset can't afford to continue with a Victorian-style county-borough-parish structure which is expensive, inefficient, and is being rendered obsolete by technology.

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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