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Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters - November 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
This newsletter was originally sent to you on Friday 2nd November. Unfortunately a technical glitch meant that hundreds of e-mails disappeared into the ether. The gurus told us to send the whole thing again.
So if you've seen this before - apologies. If not - read on.
Aren't computers fun!

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

Nuisance Phone Calls
Pension Scams
Local authorities - Uneven Treatment
Creating the new Council
Costs of Conversion
Interim Measures
The New Christchurch Town Council
Councils and Property Investment
Marsh Lane School
Remembrance Sunday

A reminder that CBC, together with the Royal British Legion and other community groups, has organised a public service to commemorate the life and death of those who served in the First World War.

The event is to be held on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2018 starting at 6.45pm at the Bandstand on Christchurch Quay.
Nuisance Phone Calls
Consumers will be better protected against nuisance calls, and vulnerable customers treated more fairly, thanks to new strengthened rules introduced in October.

Last year, Ofcom completed a comprehensive review of the regulatory rules that all communications providers must follow to operate in the UK. The aim of the review was to update their rules and ensure that consumers have the protection they need against sharp practices, and to support Ofcom’s enforcement work. In summary:

Phone companies will be banned from charging customers for “caller display”, a service which helps people to screen unwanted calls;

Telephone numbers displayed to people receiving calls must be valid and allow a person to call the number back;

Phone companies must take steps to identify and block calls which carry invalid numbers – a feature of many nuisance calls – so they don’t get through to consumers in the first place;

Communications providers must introduce policies for identifying vulnerable customers – such as people with learning or communication difficulties or those suffering physical or mental illness or bereavement – to ensure they are treated fairly.

All communications providers must ensure that customer concerns are dealt with promptly and effectively;

Pension Scams

A new campaign to tackle pension scams has been launched 
The latest figures reveal that pension scam victims lose an average of £91,000 each. Pension fund holders aged 45-65 are the group most at risk of such scams.

A poll commissioned by the regulators reveals that almost a third of such pension holders would not know how to check whether they are speaking with a legitimate pension adviser or provider

Highly sophisticated scammers lure people into transferring their pensions into fraudulent schemes.

One of the most common tactics is to offer a ‘free pension review’. Research reveals that one in eight 45 to 65-year-olds surveyed said they would trust an offer of a ‘free pension review’ from someone claiming to be a pension advisor.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) have joined forces to urge the public to be on their guard when receiving unexpected offers about their pension and to check who they are dealing with. 

They recommend four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams:

Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone

Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the FCA Register or call the FCA contact centre on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is FCA authorised

Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension

Consider getting impartial information and advice.

If you think you’ve been a victim of a pension scam, report it. Visit here to find out.

Research from Cambridge University has revealed that English councils have been hit twice as hard as councils in Scotland and Wales by Government spending cuts.

The analysis found that local authorities in England have suffered an average funding reduction of almost 24% since 2010 compared to 12% in Scotland and Wales

The study said that cuts in England were deeper and more severe because the devolved powers in the Scottish and Welsh governments enables them to find alternative funding sources.

It added that austerity has resulted in local government becoming less and less able to respond to the needs of their residents, particularly children in care and the vulnerable elderly, with cities in the most deprived areas of England suffering more than those in affluent areas

Meanwhile Central Government continues to pile further financial burdens on local authorities.

The “duty to refer” a core part of the Homelessness Reduction Act, came into force in October. Residents such as patients, prisoners and jobseekers who are at risk of homelessness must now be referred to CBC under this new legislation.

It places responsibilities on public bodies such as prisons, Job Centres and NHS Trusts to ensure those at risk get the help they need.

This will involve councils providing financial support to help those people by paying deposits for a tenancy, making rent payments or even managing a property on the landlord’s behalf.

On the positive side, regular long-standing readers will recall the proposal by Central Government to levy a tax on local authorities from 2019-20 called the negative Revenue Support Grant. Put simply, instead of using a grant to subsidise Bournemouth-Christchurch-Poole (BCP) in 2019-20 unbelievably they intended to add to their financial problems by taking money away. That proposal may now be dropped which potentially will have a £3m positive impact on the new BCP authority first year funding gap.

There is also good news for fostered children. Businesses including Amazon, Rolls-Royce and Barclays have pledged to support young people leaving the care system through a landmark government scheme launched to raise their career aspirations and improve their life skills.

Too many care leavers do not achieve the same outcomes as their peers, with 40% of them aged 19 to 21 not in education, employment or training compared to 13% for this age group overall.

The scheme will help care leavers navigate the work opportunities available and support them in fulfilling their ambitions. They will have access to work placements and internships with big businesses and government departments, as well as training workshops.

The Boundaries Commission have issued their report and you can find it on our website  and click on “latest updates”. And so you know its not just Dorset, it’s just been announced that the five existing local authorities in Buckinghamshire will be abolished in favour of a unitary council that will come into effect in April 2020

The Secretary of State has written to the Shadow Council confirming that he is minded to allow Christchurch Council Tax to be frozen for up to 7 years from 2019. Cllr Janet Walton, Chairman of the Shadow Executive replied:

As a new unitary council, we have always been keen to strike the balance between ensuring council tax payers do not experience a large increase in bills and not allowing residents in any one part of the area to be concerned that they are effectively contributing more to the cost of services than others in the area.

Therefore, we determined early in the process a commitment that (a) no Borough’s Council Tax level will increase at a rate exceeding the Government’s referendum limits and (b) in each year the gap between the highest and lowest prevailing rates will reduce.

Currently, a Christchurch Band E taxpayer pays £2,306 a year in Council Tax. Assuming a 2% increase each year that would have risen to £2,649 by 2025-26. Instead it will remain at about £2,306 (there may be some small adjustments to pay for the new Christchurch Parish Councils).  Thus, the taxpayer saves about £1,344 over the seven-year period.

On your behalf we attended the October Shadow Executive meeting.

The Structural Changes Order approved by Parliament provides that the existing councils such as CBC must co-operate to ensure the effective and timely transfer of functions to the new council. The Order includes a specific requirement to release staff as appropriate to undertake the necessary work. 

This is causing problems across in Dorchester where a skills shortage is emerging as staff attempt to both keep the existing show on the road whilst implementing the new council. It is predicted that eventually there will be a loss of 30 senior managers, over 120 mid-tier managers and more than 60 other posts.

The staff Trades Union UNISON are insisting that meaningful and proper consultation is in place and that due process is observed. They will ensure that the Councils meet their legal obligations regardless of time frames. They aim to ensure that the transition to the new Unitary Councils is carried out with the least disruption to staff and local services.

Keeping people motivated as they head towards redundancy is one of management’s most difficult tasks. There is every reason to believe that the new BCP Council will go through similar experiences to Rural Dorset.

The original business case estimated set up costs of BCP at £11.8 million, which were projected to produce savings of many times that amount in future years. Time available is unfortunately much less than that envisaged in the estimate which means that these costs may increase, making for a longer pay-back period.

The costs are being shared between Bournemouth Council who pay around 50%, Poole Council who pay 38% and Christchurch and Dorset Councils who each pay 6%.

The initial early-stage budget approved last April was £1.2 million and work done so far is within that budget. However, significant transition costs are now being incurred and as a result, additional resources of £8 million have been approved for the current more intense phase, which will bring the total spend to just over £9 million so far.

Central Government have promised to make a funding contribution but are currently too shy to confirm how much and when the money might be received. The Shadow Executive Chairman has written to the Minister seeking clarification.

Work is underway sorting out several issues that affect Christchurch.

Schools and A338: work at Twynham Primary School; work at Highcliffe St Marks Primary School; the chaotic A338 improvement works.

Implementation of these schemes by DCC has already started, and it will become the responsibility of the new BCP Unitary to arrange for the completion and funding of any remaining works on them post 31st March 2019.

Discussions are ongoing with representatives of the new Dorset Area Unitary for them to manage the completion of the works with BCP overseeing the work and footing the bill.

Waste Collection and Recycling: Rural Dorset Shadow Executive recently agreed that the Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) should continue to deliver waste services in Christchurch for an interim period of one year from 1 April 2019. The BCP Shadow Executive should ratify this arrangement in November.
This will enable Rural Dorset to continue to provide services in Christchurch and will mean all DWP staff and vehicles transfer to Dorset Council. There will thus be no change in staff management.

Property assets relating to the delivery of the waste service located in the Christchurch area, for example Hurn Recycling Centre and Christchurch Household Recycling Centre, will transfer to the new BCP Council.
In the past Public Health functions have been delivered on behalf of Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset by a shared service, Public Health Dorset.

This partnership has been in place since 2013. It pools the three Public Health Grants for use in commissioning public health services. This shared service has led to efficiencies and savings and has increased the effectiveness of public health services.


As Local Government Re-organisation progresses, several pieces of work are underway to ensure that the partnership maintains its effectiveness and viability through and beyond LGR. This includes financial analysis designed to ensure that the Grant received matches the population of the new Council.

Following the Community Governance Review and the decision of CBC to create two new Town Councils (Highcliffe & Walkford Town Council and Christchurch Town Council), it is necessary to set out the rules to be applied to any transfer of assets from CBC to the new Town Councils.
Rule One says that all assets required for the delivery of Council services and capable of generating income will be transferred to the new BCP Council
Rule Two says that any asset transfer that could have a financial impact upon the new BCP Council of £100,000 or more must be approved by the BCP Shadow Executive.
A similar set of rules have been adopted by the Rural Dorset Council Shadow Executive. CBC must now consider what to do next.

The Ministry for Housing Communities & Local Government have stated that if the various bodies fail to cooperate and agree asset and financial transfers they will step in and impose regulations which will limit any transfers to the new Town Councils

Research by the Financial Times and others suggests that a lot of retail parks are in financial difficulty. 
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) is the leading accountancy body for the public services. In a statement issued in October, Councils have been warned not to expose public funds to “unnecessary or unquantified risk” when borrowing to invest in commercial property
They reminded councils that the prime objective of a local authority’s treasury management investment activities is the security of the funds. CIPFA are concerned that there has been an acceleration of the practice of investing in commercial property financed by borrowing. Of course, CIPFA aren’t faced with a shrinking income and increasing financial demands.
Bournemouth Council is making plans to counter the closure of the Homebase store on the Mallard Road retail park. The borough purchased the site in 2017 with £49 million borrowed from other councils. A quick check reveals that in addition to the Homebase problem, two shop units remain empty. The site and its associated debt will be inherited by the new Unitary Authority
Marsh Lane School

The new school has now been operational for a couple of months.

When it was built, our membership was divided in its opinions. A number, mainly living close to Marsh Lane, were opposed; equally a number, mainly having children or grandchildren living within the catchment area, were strongly in favour; the majority were in favour but not at any price.  

Following our representations to them, DCC explored the viability of alternate sites using an independent third party. The outcome of this investigation (which you can read on our website) when combined with the clear evidence that the school was needed made the proposal one that we couldn’t legitimately object to. 

However, we were disappointed by the traffic management arrangements which we felt fell short of what we and others had pressed for. We had been assured that DCC would not put cost considerations before safety. Their expressed attitude of "do nothing and see what happens" appeared to fly in the face of those assurances.

Now that the school has been running for a while, what is the reality? If you have direct experience, good or bad, of the school traffic could you please let us know about it by replying to this e-mail.

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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