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Community Matters - August 2018

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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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Judicial Review - what the Judge said
Christchurch Local Plan
Council Tax on Empty Properties
Local Water Supply
DCC Waste Disposal
News of our local MP
Crime Figures in Dorset
More Scam E-Mails
Marlow Drive Car Park
Following the Judicial Review hearing, the Judge Sir Ross Cranston (an ex-solicitor general and professor of law) has found in favour of Future Dorset and against CBC.
If you want to read a simple English precis of the judgement click here.

The judge tells CBC that their legal case is non-existent and has “disappeared into the ether”. He continues that they have not acted in a timely fashion. Promptness in this case was of obvious importance when the steps to prepare for reorganisation have been continuing during 2017 and have involved the expenditure of considerable time, effort and public moneys. If objection had been raised earlier steps could have been taken to avoid any potential issue.

Finally, the judge says, even if the Secretary of State had acted illegally as suggested it is highly likely that the outcome would not have been substantially different. The other eight Dorset councils could resubmit the proposal as a new proposal, and the Secretary of State could confirm that he still wished to implement it. In other words, the claim would, if it were to succeed, make no difference.

Then, in a final highly significant paragraph, he says that in any event he would refuse the claim as a matter of his discretion. First, because its effect would make no real difference and would simply cause further delay and inconvenience to the other Dorset local authorities but not affect the overall outcome. Second because it would be detrimental to good administration given the time, effort and public money already expended by councils across Dorset on implementing the proposal.

A statement issued on behalf of Dorset's councils excluding CBC said:

"We are delighted but unsurprised by today’s judgement. A huge amount of work has already been undertaken, and we are making excellent progress towards creating the two new councils. 
CBC has spent a very significant amount of council tax payers’ money in pursuing this legal action. The High Court has rejected that challenge and we hope that all Christchurch Councillors will now accept that judgement, and fully take part in planning for and making decisions about the new council.

A statement from the nine Christchurch councillors who have supported Future Dorset – Claire Bath, Bernie Davis, Tavis Fox, Wendy Grace, Vicki Hallam, Ray Nottage, Lisle Smith, Sue Spittle and Trevor Watts – said: "Now that the judicial review has come to its conclusion, it is time to look forward and grasp the opportunities that Future Dorset presents."

All good positive stuff. The leader of CBC Councillor David Flagg said:

We are disappointed by today’s judgement. We have been advised that some points set out in the Judgement are still arguable in law and therefore we will be responding to the Judge on these. Depending on his response we will consider whether an appeal to the Court of Appeal would be appropriate or not.”

Could we suggest that spending yet more of our money chasing these parochial, unconstructive ends is not the wisest of paths? Now is the time to look forward, grasp this opportunity and work to the future good of all of Dorset’s residents.
CBC has chosen this moment to launch a review of its local plan.

This plan should be regarded as part of a series – it is the latest variation of the very similar plans that have gone before it. The plan is part of a rolling 5-year process sponsored by Central Government that encourages planning cooperation with other Councils under the auspices of National Planning Practice. Plans look ahead for a 15-year period.

Housing plays a significant part in such plans. There is a major local issue over the cost of “affordable housing” and the average incomes of those residents likely to buy such properties. There are also a high number of second homes that remain empty for much of the time (but see below).

Transport is highlighted in the Local Plan and particularly the need for Councils to cooperate with one another as well as the Local Enterprise Partnership and other similar organisations.

Historically, there has been something of a disconnect between the worthy aims of the planners and the availability of funds. Today this is an acute problem, highlighted by the large number of people who have a bus pass but no local bus service on which to use it.

The formation of the two new councils will have a vital influence on these local plans and we will watch and wait to see what now transpires

Secretary of State for Communities the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said recently:

We’re determined to do everything we can to ensure our communities have the housing they need. That’s why we’re giving councils extra flexibility to increase bills and incentivise owners to bring long-standing empty homes back into use. By equipping councils with the right tools to get on with the job, we could potentially provide thousands more families with a place to call home.

Legislation originally contained provision for councils to double the rate of tax on properties that had been empty for 2 years or more. They have now amended that during the Third Reading of the Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill in the House of Lords to allow councils to triple the council tax on homes left empty for 5 to 10 years and quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.

Currently, there are just over 200,000 homes empty for 6 months or more in England, compared to 300,000 in 2010. This number has reduced dramatically since 2013 after councils were given powers to charge a 50% premium on council tax bills.

Decisions on whether to charge a premium, and the exact rates to be charged will remain a matter for councils, taking local circumstances into account. It is anticipated that councils will be able to charge 100% premiums from April 2019, 200% premiums from April 2020 and 300% premiums from 2021.

To ensure the proposed new powers are not used to unfairly punish those genuinely facing difficult circumstances, the government has also announced that it will publish revised guidance for councils.
We have experienced less than 10% of average rainfall recently and that inevitably puts a strain on water resources.

Neither Bournemouth Water nor Wessex Water have so far contemplated a hosepipe ban although they have asked residents to behave responsibly when it comes to watering gardens and washing cars.

Wessex Water manages a water supply grid within both Dorset and Wiltshire that enables water to be moved around the area to meet demand.

Bournemouth Water take supplies from both the Avon and the Stour. Both are relatively large rivers so that the amount taken is small compared with the overall volume of water flowing into the area. Also, the wet weather in the Spring means that reservoirs were full before the hot spell commenced.

The Government aims to recycle 50% of all household waste by 2020. 

And to cut to 35 per cent the proportion of rubbish going to landfill.

About 129,000 tonnes of rubbish, 58 per cent of all waste, was recycled or composted in 2016-2017 in the DCC area, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The average recycling rate in England is only 43 per cent. Bournemouth and Poole both recycled 48 per cent of their waste.

About 44,000 tonnes of waste in Dorset was sent to incineration plants to produce electricity, 20 per cent of the total. Over the past two years, the incineration rate in Dorset has remained unchanged. In Bournemouth 39 per cent of waste as incinerated, chiefly to produce electricity. The figure for Poole is 35%

In all areas, the residual waste went to landfill.

MP Mims Davies put forward a Commons Motion to allow women MPs to use the Commons chamber 
It was to be on a day in November when the House would not be sitting. This was all to do with a conference involving women MPs from around the world.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "The government is supportive of holding the conference."

Sir Christopher Chope MP tabled an amendment to the motion saying that the conference must be for parliamentarians only - and that they must hold a debate while using the chamber. He told BBC News the Commons chamber is the "fulcrum" of British democracy and should only ever be used by elected parliamentarians.

He was criticised by shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler who said Theresa May needed to "to call out this sexist behaviour in her own party". MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said on Twitter: "Once with up-skirting is foolish but twice might lead to accusations of him being a misogynist!"

Latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that over the last 12 months crime increased by 10% across Dorset with the police recording more than 49,000 crimes, up from 45,000 the previous year.

Violent crime increased by 16%; robberies increased by 15%; and theft showed an increase of 5% from 2017. On the plus side offences involving weapons dropped 3%.

Deputy Chief Constable David Lewis, of Dorset Police, said:

“Back in 2015 we told the public that, after more than a decade of continual reduction in reported crime, it was expected that we would start seeing a rise and this has been reflected nationally in recent years.
Like other forces, the increase in recent years can in part be put down to people having greater confidence in coming forward, particularly for crimes such as domestic and sexual offences, and an increased emphasis on recording crime as accurately as possible.”

However, the Police Federation says the increase in crime is inevitable but for a completely different reason.  Anna Harvey, chair of Dorset Police Federation, said:

“Police numbers are down, demand is up and therefore it is clear that crime is going to increase. Police chief constables need more funding to recruit more police officers.”

Fake emails claim that your LinkedIn profile has appeared in multiple searches and provide links you can click on to get more details.

These links lead to malicious websites designed to steal your personal and financial details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

And other new scams

Cyber criminals are sending victims their own passwords to trick them into believing they have been filmed on their computer watching porn and demanding payment. There have been over 110 reports made to Action Fraud from concerned victims who have received these scary emails.  

In a new twist not seen before by Action Fraud, the emails contain the victim’s own password in the subject line. Action Fraud has contacted several victims to verify this information, who have confirmed that these passwords are genuine and recent. The emails demand payment in Bitcoin.

Don’t be rushed or pressured - paying only highlights that you’re vulnerable and that you may be targeted again. Do not email the fraudsters back. Change your password immediately and reset it on any other accounts you’ve used the same one for.

Local News - the dangerous condition of the Marlow Drive Car Park

Such was our concern over the dangerous condition of the Marlow Drive car park that we took it upon ourselves, along with the Chairman of the Community Hall, to raise the issue with the landlord’s agent. They are Brickman Yale of The Stables, Octagon House, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1RL; e-mail:

On 21st January 2018 we wrote to the landlords pointing out the dangerous condition of the car park that had been caused by a long period of inadequate maintenance.

In March 2018 we were advised by Brickman Yale that the car park would be resurfaced in its entirety on the 1st April 2018. That didn’t happen but on 23rd April we received an e-mail from them telling us that the damaged manhole outside the bakery had been repaired.

They went on to say they had met the landlord and had discussed the car park and putting it in a better state (an admission that it needs repairing). They claimed that they had contacted the local council as tree roots are damaging the main car park entrance (as well as the pavement outside Nisa and the parking bays facing Marlow Drive of course)

Since then we have contacted the agent by telephone on a regular basis and have been offered numerous excuses for a lack of progress. Specifically, we were told that they were waiting for the council’s response regarding tree roots. We asked Councillor Sue Spittle to contact the relevant officers at CBC and DCC. They confirmed to her that there had been no enquiry received regarding the trees roots in the car park.

To move things along, one of our committee members, assisted by the Chairman of the Community Hall, carried out a survey and took photographs of the car park detailing the areas of concern. Areas likely to cause harm to the public were highlighted. This was forwarded to the agent on 25th June 2018 along with web links for two local contractors who could undertake the necessary work.

A couple of weeks ago, in our last telephone conversation with the agent, it was agreed that our committee member accompanied by the Community Hall Chairman would meet and discuss the car park with one of those local contractors. That happened on Friday 3rd August 2018.

This is a sorry chapter of wilful inaction. If any of you have suffered injury or if your car has been damaged, please feel free to make this account available to your insurance company or legal advisor.



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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