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Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters - April 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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News from the Airport
More Technological Advances
CBC Transfer Fee
Council Tax should be replaced
News from Westminster
Election News
2019 Subscriptions
The AGM decided to keep the subscription at £1 per household. Our collectors will soon venture out.

If you could help them by collecting £1 from your neighbours – please get in touch.

News from the Airport


Business outlets within the airport are very nearly fully occupied. As a result, the Airport has no facilities to offer potential new tenants, nor the planning permission to generate new opportunities.

An internal road link between the business parks has been investigated and a planning application will be submitted in April along with two other applications designed to enhance the business park. It is hoped to have planning consent by September, with development of the road starting in October or November.

Airport use has increased with 2018 being 3% better than budget and new routes for 2019 have been added to the programme. 

There has been a greater emphasis placed on customer service and thought given as to how the Airport can enhance the experience of using its facilities for its passengers.  To that end, Ground Handling Services have been brought in-house from the 1st April 2019 and over £900,000 of new equipment has been ordered. The Airport will be hiring an additional 50 to 60 new staff.

The Airport will open a Premium Lounge on the 1st June 2019, which is already taking bookings via the Airport’s website.  Aimed at both business and leisure passengers, the Lounge will offer a quiet and relaxing place, with comfortable seating, complimentary refreshments, newspapers, magazines and unlimited high-speed wi-fi.  

More Technological Advances

One of the questions asked at our AGM concerned possible sites for an office block to house the new BCP Council.

The answer drew attention to the rate at which technology is greatly reducing the need for banks of clerks siting in large office blocks.

As an example, millions of people across England and Wales can now sign their mortgage deeds online, as high street lenders use the new HM Land Registry service, which is making buying a home simpler and quicker.

The digital service enables people to sign their mortgage on their phone or computer. It removes the need for pen-on-paper signatures, and witnesses no longer need to be present when the documents are signed.

Homeowners no longer face delays from having to print out forms, find an independent third party to witness their signature, and pay to return the forms by post.

More people are applying for their mortgages using paperless processes and HM Land Registry’s free service brings the sector one step closer to an end-to-end paperless process.

This and similar developments are removing the need for expensive office blocks

CBC Transfer Fee
As part of the formation of the new BCP Council, Christchurch has transferred out of rural Dorset and transfers attract a transfer fee.

Part of the debt held by the old DCC was attributable to work undertaken by them for and in Christchurch (in care for the elderly for example). Under the somewhat strange accountancy arrangements that applied the debt was not shown in CBC accounts but rather was hidden in the overall DCC debt.

A great deal of work has been undertaken by council officers to try to quantify that debt. We contacted Adam Richens the new Director of Finance at BCP and he told us that agreement has been reached on the principles that will be applied in splitting the Asset and Liabilities of the old DCC between BCP and the new Rural Dorset Council

This split will be based on the DCC balance sheet as at the 31st March 2019. This position is not likely to be confirmed until after the end of July to enable the 2018-19 accounts of DCC to be drawn up and audited. 

It is anticipated that the DCC loans – and particularly the LOBO loans - will transfer to the new Dorset Rural Council and no liability for those loans will be attributable to BCP. That is good news. By August it should be clearer whether BCP will have to borrow to pay the Christchurch transfer fee to the Dorset Rural Council.

Council Tax should be replaced

For 2019-20 Christchurch Band D property owners are paying around £1,930 a year.

The average Band D in England is £1,1750 a year. Had we stayed in rural Dorset the rate is about £2,038 a year. Only Rutland is higher than that at £2,043 a year

About 16% of our tax funds the emergency services.  We are also all now funding local parish councils to the tune of about £3 a month.

Council tax was born in a rush, after the disastrous failure of the poll tax. It is easy to collect. However, it is a sizeable bill that forms a significant part of most resident’s expenditure - an unfair, regressive tax that is riddled with problems and anomalies.

The values used for calculating the band of council tax to be paid are based on house valuations in the 1990s. Although they were supposed to be revalued periodically, that has never happened in England. The absurd consequence of this is that when a new property is built, someone must work out what it would have sold for more than 20 years ago.

Council tax is regressive. The occupier of a large house pays perhaps three times as much tax as somebody in a small one, but their house might be worth more than five times as much. It also takes little account of ability to pay, which is why large increases create genuine financial difficulties particularly for those on fixed incomes.

A recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) assessing the potential for devolving powers to English councils suggests that a local income tax would be the best option for the government if it wanted to devolve significant revenue to councils and the technology exists to implement such a change.

The IFS estimated that devolution of a portion of income tax would provide financial incentives for councils to grow the local economy and would be a fairer deal for residents.

It would also give councils a buoyant revenue stream that automatically keeps pace with inflation and growth – unlike council tax and business rates. The whole issue of Christchurch residents paying more than Poole residents would disappear overnight.

What chance the present Government will get around to implementing such change?

News from Westminster

Despite some locally generated hiccups along the way, as of 12th April ‘up-skirting’ offenders can be arrested and sent to prison as a new law banning the invasive practice came into force across England and Wales.

The criminal offence of ‘up-skirting’ was created under the Voyeurism Act when it received Royal Assent in February.

Police and prosecutors have now updated their guidance to ensure the law is properly enforced – with offenders facing up to 2 years in jail and being placed on the sex offenders register.

This marks the culmination of tireless campaigning from Gina Martin and other victims, MPs and charities who worked closely with Ministers to create the new law and protect victims.

Election News

There will not be an election for Hurn Parish Council as the number of candidates is less than the number of vacancies

At least the council can function. There is a major problem across rural Dorset where several Parish Councils have attracted no candidates at all – meaning that the Council can’t operate immediately, and further action will be required.

Our candidates Sue Fotheringham and Jim Biggin have been kept busy. They both managed to get to grips with the paperwork needed to register them as candidates in consultation with Council Officers.

It’s been a steep learning curve for us, and we contrived to make a silly mistake. Election law says that a poster must have the name of the printer on it.  Somehow our committee and our printer managed to leave that address off the bottom of our AGM posters.

The law is designed to stop people posting anonymous, libellous posters. As our poster was clearly from us and contained the most innocuous of material the authorities viewed our transgression as a minor matter, for which we are thankful.

We published over 8,000 election leaflets which Sue, Jim and their teams of volunteers then distributed across our ward. This and other associated costs involved us in spending nearly £600 of our fighting fund, which is money we set aside for just this sort of purpose.

Remember, we are doing this because we believe that the new council structure will remove our reason for existing if we don’t manage to have councillors that represent us on the two councils. Don’t worry, we still have over £6,000 in reserve! 

Election Day is Thursday 2nd May

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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