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Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters - January 2019

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

Chairman's Report - Our Future Role
BCP Transport Infrastructure
Financial Problems at DCC
Engineering in Dorset
Eliminating Sleeping Rough
Hospital Reorganization
Police Commissioner Seeks Your Views
Pressure on the Green Belt
Latest Appointments at BCP


A happy and prosperous New Year to all our members and other readers. I'm Jim Biggin, your Chairman. This is my report for 2018

There is an important issue concerning the future of the Residents Association to be addressed in this report. First, we’ll get the mandatory housekeeping piece out of the way.

Your Association remains in sound financial condition as will be confirmed by our finalised annual accounts which will be posted on the website once all the figures are verified. They will show a surplus of £500 in 2018 and assets of over £8,100. Our membership is over 1,400 households representing around 2,500 local people.

Our thanks go to our collectors without whom we would struggle to survive. If we had more of them, we could expand our membership. If you could assist us by collecting subscriptions from your neighbours, please get in touch.

2018 was a demanding year for your management committee and I must thank them for their hard work throughout the year. They consistently maintained their perspective of putting the long-term interest of our members before all else whilst retaining a keen and necessary sense of humour. If you feel you could contribute to the running of the Association, please let us know.

The monthly circulation of our e-newsletter remained at over 1,600 e-mail addresses. 

It continues to provoke responses from members and this enables us to engage in dialogue with you. With Local Government reorganization finally resolved we may lose some of the people (particularly from outside of the Christchurch area) who read it during 2017 and 2018 to keep in touch with what was happening.

We were heartened by the steady flow of thanks we received from people who felt that our newsletter represented a factual, unbiased source of information. Not just for the reorganization but also on such matters as the financial problems experienced by DCC. Producing those newsletters requires a lot of hard work by a dedicated team of people and your thanks is much appreciated.

We still have around 500 households that don’t take the e-mail news and we produced several versions of the paper edition during 2018. Our thanks to the tireless volunteers who help us to distribute them.

Our Future Role as a Residents Association

In April we will have a new unitary authority that will be responsible for the whole of Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole. 

In the past we have played an active part in dealing with a somewhat remote DCC run by people based in Dorchester who often had only a superficial knowledge of Christchurch. In future main council activity will be run locally, primarily by local people.

Our new town council based in Christchurch (which will cost about £342,000 a year to run and which will add about £3 a month to your Council Tax) will be more akin to a Parish Council and will potentially do many of the things we used to do.

Those changes raise a significant question – what role we should play in this new set up.

Our sister organisation, Stanpit and Mudeford Residents Association (SAMRA), has decided to call it a day and to cease operations.

We also considered that path but concluded that it would be premature. We came to believe that a change in the way we operate could bring benefit to our members and we would like now to hear your opinions.

We considered the new local parish council and it seemed to us that the best way for us to participate in its work whilst representing your interests would be to have an elected representative on that Council. A Residents Association Councillor who would be wholly independent.

From that line of thought we then considered the main Bournemouth Christchurch Poole unitary authority and concluded that the same logic applies. The very best way for us to represent you would be to have an elected independent Residents Association Councillor for this area (known as the Commons Ward of Bournemouth Christchurch Poole and comprising Jumpers, St Catherine’s and Hurn).

We must stress that both of our candidates would have absolutely no political affiliations. If they were fortunate enough to be elected, they would report only to you through these newsletters and you would be able to reply to us and let us know your views on any and all topics. We would always aim to be constructive and progressive to bring maximum benefit to our residents.
Who Would Stand?
If the feedback that we receive from you now is positive then I’m delighted to say that one of your committee, Sue Fotheringham the lady who organises our collections, has agreed to stand for election to the new parish council next May. If one of you reading this would also like to be considered as a candidate, please get in touch with us.

Subject to the same caveat of your approval, I have agreed to stand for election as our candidate in the May council elections for the new Bournemouth Christchurch Poole unitary authority.

This new direction would represent a challenge for us. Please don’t hesitate to tell us what you think.

On Thursday March 20th, 2019 we will be holding our AGM at 7.30pm in the Hall on the Hill, Marlow Drive. If we do proceed, then that will represent an opportunity for you to meet Sue and I and to express your views.

We believe the time has come to look forward. We residents of Christchurch must put all the negativity behind us and look positively towards the future. In April we will have a new unitary authority that will be responsible for the whole of Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole. That will represent an opportunity for Christchurch to act constructively and to play a proper part in shaping our futures and those of our children and grandchildren.

Now for the rest of the news -

Bournemouth Christchurch Poole (BCP) Transport Infrastructure
Its been announced that BCP will receive £50,000 of Government money from the “Transforming Cities Fund” set up in 2017 to develop a business case for improving our local transport infrastructure. The fund is designed to support the development of innovative public transport schemes to tackle congestion in England’s cities.

We believe that BCP will suggest new and better transport hubs (such as integrating Christchurch railway station into the bus network), frequent high-speed direct buses from outlying areas such as Ferndown designed to replace commuter traffic, and better use of real-time traffic management. Presumably they will also include their investigation into a Tyneside-style integrated light railway system.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: We want to see more places like BCP benefit from better and more sustainable transport links to help the area flourish.

Dorset Chamber of Commerce said: “This is tremendously exciting news that will benefit business and the regional economy. It will put us in an advantageous position to compete for investment, new markets and offer industries looking to relocate here exceptional infrastructure and opportunities.”

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This is fantastic news for Dorset’s economy. Dorset LEP looks forward to working with the new council in one of the UK’s largest new city regions.”
Financial Problems at DCC
Long term readers of these newsletters will be aware of the financial difficulties that have dogged DCC in recent times. In December it was revealed that the new Rural Unitary Authority due to replace DCC in April will face a funding deficit of over £15 million in 2019-20.

The transfer of Christchurch away from DCC and into BCP involves the transfer of some portion of both DCC debt and DCC assets. Discussions between representatives of the two new Unitary Authorities are yet to agree quite how this will be done.

In June 2018 we revealed in our newsletter that in 2015-16 DCC took out loans of £96 million using a highly controversial mechanism called a LOBO Loan. They are provided by banks and the loan contract runs for between 40 and 70 years.  The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy has urged local councils to review their LOBO loans after auditing firms expressed concern at their impact on local authorities’ accounts.

Part of that £96 million that DCC borrowed could be attributed in some way to Christchurch when we split from DCC. In December we again asked Ian Milner, CBC Strategic Director, about this and he again told us that “nothing has yet been decided”. Some tough bargaining going on behind the scenes.

Engineering in Dorset
2018 saw the launch of the Year of Engineering, a government initiative designed to inspire a new generation of engineers in the UK. There are around 17,300 people employed in the advanced engineering sector in Dorset contributing £803 million to the local economy. However, there is a critical shortage of engineers entering the sector both locally and nationally.

Christchurch and East Dorset Councils Economic Development team recognised the significance of the Year of Engineering campaign and created a year-long strategy to support the campaign and raise the profile of career opportunities locally.

With the support of the Technical Skills Development Group, local employers, schools, colleges and universities a series of events, training courses and seminars were organised.

For example, students from schools across Dorset were invited to attend a Careers in Engineering event hosted by Curtiss-Wright at their Aviation Business Park premises. Students were able to meet nineteen local employers with worldwide reputations in the Engineering sector. The next Apprenticeship Seminar will be hosted by AIM Altitude also at Aviation Business Park on Wednesday 23 January 2019 from 5 to 7pm.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has unveiled the government’s next steps to help people off the streets and meet its target to end rough sleeping for good by 2027.

Following the publication of the Rough Sleeping Strategy last summer, the Rough Sleeping Delivery Plan sets out how important measures contained in the strategy will be delivered. This includes an expectation placed on all councils to publish detailed rough sleeping and homeless strategies by winter 2019. These should set out how councils plan to provide specialist support and accommodation for vulnerable people.

Ministers have also launched an £11 million fund for councils across the country to get as many people as possible off the streets and into secure accommodation where they can get the help they need to rebuild their lives.

Communities Secretary, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: No-one is predestined to spend their lives sleeping on the streets. Yet, despite this, too many people still sleep rough on any given night.
That is why we are acting to provide support to help get people off the street this winter and set the foundations to put an end to rough sleeping altogether by 2027. This new action plan sets out the next steps to making this goal a reality.
Hospital Reorganization
In anticipation of their reorganization, Debbie Fleming has been appointed Chief Executive and David Moss has become Chairman of both Poole and Bournemouth Hospitals.

The two appointments have been made after an independently led selection process and have been approved by both Trusts.

Debbie Fleming has been Chief Executive of Poole Hospital since April 2014 and has over 30 years’ experience in the NHS.

David Moss has been Chairman of The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust since March 2017 and has extensive experience of health services locally.

However, Poole Council have decided to write to the Secretary of State to express concerns about the transfer of maternity services from Poole Hospital to Royal Bournemouth Hospital in addition to the transfer of A&E. This followed a presentation given by NHS representatives on how Poole and Bournemouth hospitals currently operate and how they would operate under the new arrangements. Clearly, Poole were not convinced.
Police and Crime Commissioner Seeks Your Views
We contribute to the funding of the police through the Council Tax system. We all pay a little extra (it’s called a precept) and the Council pay that over to the police. The Government have told Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) that in 2019-20 they can increase the precept by up to £24 per year for a band D property.

In our December newsletter we reported the remarks made by the Chief Constable about the impact that central government cuts have had on Dorset Police. Significantly, the recent government budget settlement does not fully address such things as inflation and the introduction of a new training regime.

Throughout 2019-20 Dorset Police will be seeking further efficiency savings so that they can invest in areas such as tackling rural crime, marine crime and county lines drug networks. However, the Dorset PCC would like to claim that additional £24 a year and he seeks your views. Click here to complete the survey  
Pressure on the Green Belt
Government housing targets recently put out for consultation will put pressure on our Green Belt. For example, the target for Bournemouth is 1,442 new homes built each year. Failure to meet the targets carries a penalty - the target is increased and the council’s ability to refuse inappropriate developments is weakened.

In a letter to the Daily Echo, Leader Cllr John Beesley says Bournemouth will do everything possible to protect the Green Belt, including building higher buildings in the town centre. Work is currently taking place on a 19-storey tower block in Holdenhurst Road, which will become one of the tallest buildings in Bournemouth.

Cllr Beesley acknowledges that both Christchurch and Poole are under pressure meaning there is no alternative other than to build these new developments in Bournemouth to protect the Green Belt and areas such as Christchurch from inappropriate development.

Meanwhile the latest Management Plan for the St Catherine’s Hill SSSI has been published. You can find it on our website and then click on “Latest Updates”
Latest Appointments to New BCP Council
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Following the appointment of the new BCP Chief Executive Graham Farrant, four of the five second tier Directors have been identified. Their salaries will be in the range £120,000 - £140,000 pa

Jan Thurgood will be Director of Adult Social Care. She is currently the Strategic Director of such people related functions at Borough of Poole.

Kate Ryan will be Director of Environment and Community. She is currently the Strategic Director of environmental functions at Borough of Poole.

Bill Cotton will be Director of Regeneration and Economy. He is currently Executive Director of Environment and Economy at Bournemouth Borough Council.

Julian Osgathorpe will be Director of Resources. Julian is currently seconded as Director of the BCP Implementation Programme, but his substantive post is Executive Director of Corporate Services across both Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole.

The Director for Children’s Services role has been advertised externally. Interviews for this post are expected to be held in January with a recommendation to be taken to the Shadow Authority in February 2019.

We are not aware of any appointments from officers of CBC
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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7 Hurn Road
Christchurch, England BH23 2RJ
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