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Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters - February 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
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Deaths on Dorset Roads
Helping the Homeless
An Increase in Government Funding
A Combined Authority
Local Roadworks
Sir Christopher Chope MP
The New Christchurch Town Council
Our Future Role
Our Candidates
Our Policies

Deaths on Dorset Roads

Since 2012, the number of people killed and seriously injured on Dorset’s roads has shown a sustained fall from 355 back then to 239 in 2018. Slight or minor collisions have showed a similar reduction of a little over 30%.

Chief Constable James Vaughan has attributed the improvement to active and intelligence led policing of our roads, investment of funds and resources and close partnership working. He said:

While neither Dorset Police nor our partners will be complacent, this is an excellent result. We would like to invest more to continue this trend, and an increase to police funding by way of a small rise in the police precept would certainly help with that. Our growing Community Speed Watch teams have also empowered local communities to help reduce casualties

Helping the Homeless

Within the last 8 years the number of decisions made by councils in Dorset as to whether somebody is “homeless” peaked at 485 in 2012-13 then reduced year on year to 390 in 2015-16 but then increased quite rapidly to 522 as at 31st March 2018.

Of those 522, just over 300 were deemed to be “homeless”. Every council except North Dorset and Purbeck have seen an increase in homelessness and those living in temporary accommodation during 2017-18. This is in line with national trends.

Our thanks go to one of our members for drawing to our attention an interesting scheme that is being run in both Cambridge (where it’s called Street Aid) and Peterborough (Safer off the Streets)

There are lots of reasons why people beg on the street. Many of us instinctively want to give money to people we think need our help, and it feels more personal when we give to someone directly. But we also wonder if we are really helping.

In the view of leading charities, the evidence is clear: at best, our act of kindness will do no harm – but at worst, and all too often, our money will be spent on drink or drugs and may help to perpetuate a miserable life which often only ends in premature death.

So, in Cambridge and Peterborough they have created town centre “touch screen” donation points where residents can donate directly to an official organisation that coordinates the appropriate local charities. Cambridge Street Aid is a fund where every penny that residents donate goes directly into helping to end the waste and misery of a life spent on the streets.

Residents no longer need to gamble on whether they may be doing more harm than good. Support workers, homelessness charities and other community groups can bid into the fund for things that will make a real difference to people’s lives; the only limitation being that it must help a person get off, or stay off, the streets.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has confirmed that Councils in England are to benefit from increased funding for core services 

This will include additional support for the most vulnerable in society.

This year’s local government finance settlement includes extra funding for local services with a strong focus on greater support for adult and children’s social care.

The real terms funding increase for 2019 to 2020 is in recognition of the pressures local authorities are facing to deliver the services residents need, whilst protecting taxpayers from excessive increases in bills.

He also proposes to remove the tax that Central Government had decided to levy upon local authorities. That will leave the new BCP authority £3 million better off in its first year. In addition, the authority itself has now identified £11 million of savings resulting from the restructuring.

The threshold at which a local referendum is triggered for rises in Council Tax will stay at 3%. Referendum limits for police and crime commissioners will be set at £24, for a band D property, to address changing demands on police forces.
Elsewhere, Councillors at Edinburgh City Council have voted to introduce the first ever UK ‘tourist tax’ which will raise an estimated £14.6m for the city annually. The tax will include a flat £2 per-night room charge added to the price of a room for the first seven days of every stay. BCP take note!
A Combined Authority

The new unitary authorities, BCP and Rural DCC, are considering working together as a combined authority on strategic issues such as transport infrastructure. Frankly it’s difficult to see how either can improve the current situation without the help of the other.

A combined authority is a legal body set up using national legislation that enables a group of two or more councils to collaborate and take collective decisions across council boundaries. It is far more robust than an informal partnership or even a joint committee.

The creation of a combined authority means that member councils can be more ambitious in their joint working and can take advantage of powers and resources devolved to them from national government.

Combined authorities were introduced by the government in 2009 with the first being set up in Manchester in 2011. There are now nine including West of England which is formed of Bristol, South Gloucestershire and part of Somerset.

A Dorset combined authority was discussed with the Ministry during the reorganisation process and it is thought that those talks will be resurrected once the two new councils come into existence in May.

In the background talks continue as to how much BCP will pay DCC when Christchurch transfers over. The amount will represent the portion of DCC debt (including the infamous £96 million LOBO loan) that was incurred through DCC activity in Christchurch. BCP may have to borrow in order to fund this commitment.

Local Roadworks

Plans to redesign the road network near Bournemouth hospital have been referred to the Secretary of State. Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood has asked local government secretary James Brokenshire to “call in” the decision because of Bournemouth Council's "bias".

The scheme's first phase involves the creation of a southbound exit east of the hospital. The second, which Mr Ellwood opposes, is the construction of a flyover to form a northbound connection.

In his letter Tobias Ellwood said "Bournemouth Borough Council is the applicant, landowner and decision-maker. Many, including myself, have argued that this process is flawed and has led to inevitable and unavoidable bias by the council."

Bournemouth head of highways Gary Powell said: "After nearly two years of extensive public consultation on the Wessex Fields plans, we are extremely disappointed at the lateness of the decision to refer this matter to the Secretary of State.

Backed by central government funding, this scheme will provide a much-needed second access to Royal Bournemouth Hospital, unlock a major economic development site, as well as ease congestion in the future."

And if you thought the present torture would end in June, think again. Dorset Highways then intend to start work on the west side of the B3073 at Blackwater where they aim to improve access onto the A338 for vehicles heading for Ringwood.

It never rains but it pours. DCC have decided that a section of Grove Road from Jumpers Avenue to Barrack Road will be closed from Monday 18th February to Friday 22nd February so that Bournemouth Water can carry out essential work.

Stourvale Road, which is normally one-way from Barrack Road to Oak Avenue, will be temporarily two-way to allow access. A diversion will operate via Jumpers Avenue, a narrow road containing a sharp bend that is normally well stocked with parked cars!

Sir Christopher Chope

Regular readers will recall the embarrassing episode of our local MP stopping an attempt to introduce legislation to make up-skirting an offence

Encouraged by government ministers, MP Wera Hobhouse brought a private members' bill backing the creation of an up-skirting offence. Her bill was expected to sail through the Commons, but parliamentary rules meant it only required one MP to shout "object" to block its progress. And one MP did just that. Our own Sir Christopher Chope.

Theresa May said she was "disappointed" and vowed that the government would take on the job of pushing a law change through parliament. She said it was necessary, describing up-skirting as a "hideous invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed".

The Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill was put before Parliament in July 2018 and was approved in the House of Lords in January 2019. Offenders now face up to two years in prison.
Now he has done it again!

He shouted "object" in a debate on laws to protect children from female genital mutilation. A bill brought by crossbench peer Lord Berkley of Knighton, would have allowed the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act, in cases where children are believed to be at risk of FGM. The bill had already cleared the House of Lords.

Our MP said he had not been objecting to the substance of the issue but wanted to see all legislation properly debated. His fellow Conservative Zak Goldsmith, who co-sponsored the bill, tweeted "please note that once again he did not object to proposals put forward by his friends".

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Twitter he was "very disappointed" that the bill had been blocked adding: "FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice. We will do all we can to protect girls at risk."

Following representations from members we wrote to the local Conservative Association Chairman drawing attention to the depth of local opinion opposing the actions of our MP. So far, they have not replied.
The New Christchurch Town Council

The formation of this council is underway. CBC has produced a list of assets to be transferred to the new council on 31 March 2019. They comprise open spaces, sports pitches and recreation grounds which are currently maintained by, amongst others, the Christchurch Grounds Maintenance team.

The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Shadow Authority has been requested to enter into a one-year Service Agreement to continue with the delivery of applicable services.

A full inventory is being compiled of all the historic and civic ceremonial assets owned by CBC which are to be transferred to the Town Council. This inventory will include a photograph and description of each item together with the current storage location. Appropriate insurance cover is currently being sought.

The College of Arms has been supplied with a copy of the Reorganisation Order establishing the Town Council and has been requested to draft the petition to secure the transfer of the Borough Council’s Armorial Bearings to the Christchurch Town Council.

It is important that a Town Clerk is appointed as soon as possible. The National Association of Local Councils is undertaking an assessment of the position to determine the appropriate remuneration and a job description is being finalised. It is anticipated that the interviews will be held in the week ending 15 February 2019
Our Future Role

Last month we explained to you the situation regarding our future role once the new unitary authority and the new town council have been created. We outlined our plan to have candidates stand for election on both councils and we asked for your feedback.

We received no adverse comments at all.

Our thanks to members who did contact us with words of encouragement and those who asked for clarification. Most questions centred on two topics, first asking for more information on our candidates Sue Fotheringham and Jim Biggin and second questioning what policies we would adopt.

We’re 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

Sue has lived with her family in West Christchurch for over 12 years. She is a registered nurse with more than 30 years of service and experience in the NHS. This has exposed her to extensive changes in both culture and work practices. She has enjoyed playing an active part in the positive aspects of implementing and managing those reforms.

In her role organising the collection of our subscriptions she has met many of you and has gained a deep understanding of what is important to our members and what needs to be done to make the new Town Council a successful and meaningful aspect of our local environment.

Our Chairman Jim Biggin has agreed to stand for election as our candidate in the May council elections for the new Bournemouth Christchurch Poole unitary authority.

Jim is a retired Management Consultant. His clients included Fujitsu, GEC, and Siemens. With his wife Maureen he has lived in Christchurch since 1985. His children and grandchildren live, work and go to school in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. His hobbies include golf and ballroom dancing

He has been on our Management Committee since 2004 and our Chairman since 2008. He chairs the team that edit our newsletters and is well known in local government circles. After 15 years on the management committee of your Residents Association he knows our area and understands its needs

Our Policies

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. We need new faces and fresh ideas. We will work towards unlocking the potential of our new main Unitary Council and our new Christchurch Town Council by ensuring that:
  • Children’s Services and Adult Services are aware of the needs of Christchurch residents and their children and factor them into their plans
  • Highways and Public Transport adopt a coordinated approach across the conurbation; to highlight problems in Christchurch and attempt to alleviate them
  • BCP is aware of the special environmental status of Christchurch and the need to protect our heritage both in local planning and the protection of areas such as the St Catherine’s Hill site of special scientific interest
  • Residents of Christchurch are given an opportunity to develop their skills to better their opportunities in the local working environment
  • Those considering inward investment are aware of the opportunities in Christchurch and can support local business
  • The Information Technology services within the new council are aware of the challenges and opportunities presented by using Artificial Intelligence within local authorities
If you think we’ve missed something significant, please let us know
We are independent. Our candidates have no party-political affiliation or dogma imposed from on high. Our only concern is to stand up for you the Council Tax payer.

They represent a clean start in a new Council. They will provide a rational and factual voice in an environment where Christchurch will need to demonstrate its commitment to the new Council

On Thursday March 21st, 2019 we will be holding our AGM at 7.30pm in the Hall on the Hill, Marlow Drive. That will represent an opportunity for you to meet Sue and Jim and to express your views.
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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