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Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters - May 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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Bargates Redevelopment
Road Safety
Hurn Roundabout
Local Schools
Fly Tipping
Dorset's Aging Population
Consultation on Civil Society
News from Westminster
Hello James Brokenshire
CBC Secret Meeting
Residents lose either way

Housing association Aster Group has announced plans to build new homes and retail units in Bargates after exchanging contracts with CBC. They will be consulting with residents and business owners before submitting a formal planning application.
Current proposals include shops, flats and family homes for a mixture of affordable rent, shared ownership and freehold sale. There will be a loss of parking spaces and the development will increase the traffic pressure on Bargates which surely must be made into a one-way traffic flow involving Stour Road and Barrack Road.
Lindsey Aldington, strategic development manager at Aster Group, said: “This is a landmark opportunity for Christchurch and we’re keen for as many people to get involved in shaping the plans as possible. With input from residents and business owners we can create a new area for the community to enjoy”.
Don’t disappoint the man. You can contact Aster here or on 0800-25-45-185 or 

In 2017, 27 people were killed and 329 seriously injured on Dorset roads. Around 200 people are injured on our local roads each month. Across Dorset, road casualties cost the local economy around £160 million a year, at least £5 million of which directly impacts on NHS resources.


Public services that work together across Dorset to improve safety on our roads have launched a new website – available here 


The site hosts the latest road safety news updates, upcoming events and updates from local authorities on new engineering schemes, traffic calming measures and other initiatives


Members of the public can share information on dangerous drivers and highlight areas where they are concerned about excess speed.


If like many of us you’ve been putting up with the chaos of Blackwater in the belief that it will all come good in the end – think again. Planned improvements to Hurn Roundabout have been cut back because, DCC says, it has failed to acquire the land that was required for the original proposals.


DCC admits the new Hurn scheme will not have the same impact as first hoped in terms of improving traffic flows. The smaller revised programme has been designed and construction work is due to start soon and will take about 17 weeks, meaning completion around September 2018.


DCC claim the bridge over the Moors River will be enhanced for horse riders. The views of the Airport, which has a business plan that involves becoming an alternative to Heathrow, on hearing that access for cars will hardly improve but that horse riders will benefit are not recorded.


Starting on 14 May Dorset Highways will be installing traffic calming measures prior to the Marsh Lane school opening. They comprise a raised table adjacent to the new school entrance and 5 sets of speed cushions on Marsh Lane, Suffolk Avenue and Walcott Avenue.


These works will be carried out using minimal traffic management with no traffic disruption foreseen and works should be complete by 15 June


As the new financial year begins and Dorset schools struggle to balance the books, the National Education Union (NEU) has warned this year could be a particularly bad year for teacher redundancies.


According to the NEU, by 2022, Dorset schools will have a funding short fall of more than £4 million.

Several schools are already known to have triggered redundancy procedures.  Many posts are not being refilled when staff leave – leading to larger class sizes and higher workloads for teachers. 


Unsurprisingly, more teachers than expected are leaving the profession and fewer people are training to be teachers. 

The Dorset Waste Partnership’s (DWP) are asking residents for help. They are asking you to alert them by reporting illegally dumped rubbish. Fly-tips can be reported to the DWP online. Where there is sufficient evidence, they will investigate all reported incidents and attempt to trace and prosecute anyone found to be fly-tipping.

Most fly-tips in Dorset consist of household waste that could have been taken to a household recycling centre and disposed of free of charge. There are 11 household recycling centres across Dorset, open daily, that are free to visit and do not charge for most items. Our nearest is Wilverley Road, Somerford.


Remember, rubbish you’ve handed to someone else is still your legal responsibility until it is correctly disposed of. If someone – such as an unlicensed ‘man in a van’– were to fly-tip that waste, you could end up paying a fine or being taken to court.


The figures from Dorset County Council's State of Dorset report for Population and Older People have revealed that 28% of the population in the county are aged over 65, significantly higher than the UK average of 18%.


The native population of the county is in decline but that is balanced by a high rate of migration from people retiring here from other parts of the UK giving an overall net increase of 3,400 people.


15-24-year-olds were the biggest group in decline – a worrying statistic.


The report noted that the population of Dorset's elderly people will grow by approximately 21,000 people per year with a fifth of those expected to be aged over 85.  Alongside this, life expectancy is above the national average at 81.2 years for men and 84.7 for women


As a result, DCC have warned of several difficulties likely to arise from the ageing population including more family members finding themselves acting as informal carers and noting the increase in the number of unpaid carers in Dorset which had increased 17% since 2001 to 49,300.


DCC forgot to mention that it already regularly spends more each year than it receives or the impact that is having upon our Council Tax – so we thought we would complete the picture


From supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society to the work of charities and community groups, Civil Society is part of the fabric of our community.


You can share your ideas on how government can work with and support civil society to harness the full potential of the private and public sectors to support social good; to help improve communities to make them better places to live and work in; and to build stronger public services


Have your say by clicking here: Share your views.

News from Westminster
Local MP Sir Christopher Chope has put forward legislation that would undermine the principle of an NHS free at the point of use. His private member’s bill National Health Service (Co-Funding and Co-Payment) Bill (HC Bill 37) includes extending charges from prescriptions, dentistry and opticians to include GP visits and even hospital procedures. It will not become law.
Hello James Brokenshire
Communities, local government and housing secretary Sajid Javid has been appointed Home Secretary, replacing Amber Rudd. His post will be filled by former Northern Ireland minister James Brokenshire who is said to be pleased to move away from certain parochial, backward looking politicians.
It’s a diverse job that includes such morsels as: local government’s involvement in Brexit; the housing crisis; building safety after the Grenfell tragedy; the future use of the green belt; and of course, the council mergers that Central Government continues to champion. Following his appointment, he said:
As the son of a former chief executive of a council, local government is in the blood for me. So, I look forward to working with councils across the country by supporting them to deliver quality public services and build strong integrated communities
Cornwall Council hasn’t wasted any time and has called on the government to devolve more powers to the area as part of its proposed plans to deal with the expected impact of Brexit. The plan outlines potential changes to its economy that could create 20,000 new jobs by 2030.
Dorset maintained a discrete silence. CBC decided to said hello by writing him a letter
Councils across Dorset were set back on their heels. After meeting in secret session with the public and press excluded and all doors guarded, CBC launched a plan to halt the reorganisation of local government within Dorset.

Acting on the advice of specialist London based solicitors Sharpe Pritchard, it has written to the Secretary of State and to all the other councils in Dorset outlining its grounds for seeking a Judicial Review. As you might imagine, other councils are not best pleased and are urgently seeking legal advice, which we Council Tax payers will pay for.
CBC is claiming that the Secretary of State does not have the legislative authority to implement Future Dorset, the plan to abolish all nine councils and to replace them by two unitary authorities.
If you haven’t read it, our plain language article that explains Judicial Review will give you an insight to what is going on.
We asked CBC Strategic Director Ian Milner what financial provision CBC has set up to meet the contingency of paying a huge combined legal fee if it gains a judicial review which it then loses and what impact a payment of that size would have upon council services. Here’s his reply:
I cannot advise you of the financial provision agreed by Full Council as this decision was taken in Exempt Session (our comment - jargon for “behind closed doors”).

We fully understand why the discussion of the legal detail was held in secret. However, we believe it was fundamentally wrong to potentially commit hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s funds to a project in such a way that we, representing some 3,000 of those taxpayers, are unable to tell you, our members: 
how much has been allocated;
whether that is a reasonable estimate;
how it is to be funded;
what risks are associated with the expenditure;
what effect it will have upon CBC services; what effect it will have upon Dorset County Council (DCC) services in Christchurch.

It is a fundamental element of Judicial Review that the loser pays everybody else’s costs. In this case there are 9 other organisations incurring costs as a direct result of the CBC action: The Ministry; Bournemouth Council; Dorset County Council; Poole Council; all the other second tier councils in Dorset such as West Dorset, East Dorset, etc. We have taken advice and are advised that the combined costs of CBC and the other 9 parties could amount to £800,000. This then is the approximate amount of our money that CBC is gambling.


So far as we can see this expenditure has never been discussed and agreed by the CBC Resources Committee. We are not aware that any risk assessment has been carried out and that strikes us as outrageous for such a large unbudgeted sum. It is simply not compatible with sound monetary management and appears to mean that CBC internal control mechanisms have been ignored.


We do know that depending on the nature of the decision being challenged, the court may show a degree of deference to the Minister, given his democratic mandate; also, the court may be reluctant to intervene in matters of public policy.


We also know that even if the court finds that the Minister has acted wrongly it does not have to grant a remedy. It might decide not to do so if it thinks CBC’s own conduct has been wrong or unreasonable. The court may decide not to act where a remedy would impede the Ministry’s ability to deliver fair administration.


We therefore conclude that this is a very high-risk project that CBC have embarked upon.

DCC is in a difficult financial situation. The last audited balance sheet showed a trading loss of £31 million and a bottom line of £124 million liabilities. This followed at least four consecutive years of spending exceeding income. We are advised that in 2017-18 DCC spent approximately £4 million more than it received by way of income.
DCC, along with several other councils in Dorset, is banking upon the reorganisation associated with Future Dorset to provide a partial solution to its funding deficit. If CBC is successful in derailing Future Dorset, then DCC will be forced to take drastic action. That will involve such thing as closing the library, removing all bus subsidies, closing social services in Christchurch and merging it into Ferndown, and so on. 
Our Council Tax will continue to rise to the maximum allowed by Government (in contrast to plans under Future Dorset which envisage it being frozen for several years to accommodate harmonisation with Bournemouth and Poole).
Thus, if CBC lose, we taxpayers will be out of pocket to the tune of several hundred thousand pounds. If CBC win, local services will suffer, and our council tax will be higher that it needs be. 
On 14th May the Ministry replied to CBC saying that they consider their claim to be “not arguable” (our note – without merit), and that they will not withdraw the draft regulations currently going through Parliament. They describe the CBC request for withdrawal as “constitutionally inappropriate”.

They go on to point out that the merger process has been “under way now for a very considerable time”, that “time is of the essence” and that CBC has “failed to act promptly” – something we have been pointing out for a year.

At our public meeting of 18th April, members voted unanimously to approve a subscription rate of £1 per household in 2018

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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