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Your Residents Association Newsletter

Community Matters - June 2020

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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A letter to Boris
A Busy BCP 
Test and Trace
No Air Festival
Business Suffers
Another Judicial Review
The Mortgage Holiday
BCP and AI
Membership Renewal
Many thanks to those of you who have paid your £1 annual sub (plus in many instances a voluntary donation). If you haven't renewed your membership details of what to do are given at the foot of this newsletter

A Letter to Boris from Councillor Spenser Flower, the Leader of Dorset Council

Dear Prime Minister
Dorset is within a single day’s travelling distance for visitors from London and the Midlands. 

Over the past weekend we have seen some extremely disappointing behaviour from visitors to Dorset’s beaches.

The incidents at Durdle Door on Saturday 30 May placed a huge strain on our emergency services.  There have also been issues in other popular destinations across the county with excessive numbers of visitors not being able to observe social distancing. 
We’ve seen littering, people urinating and defecating in public, people camping overnight and people having dangerous campfires and BBQs – despite extensive warnings against this from all local agencies. Council employees have been abused by members of the public as they tried to manage the traffic. 
I am acutely aware of how worried and upset many Dorset residents feel about the current situation, particularly when so many of them have complied fully with lockdown guidance, and the Dorset Council area has one of the lowest COVID19 infection rates in the country.
My overriding priority throughout the COVID19 outbreak has been the safety and wellbeing of Dorset residents, and all decision making has been based on this. We at Dorset Council have done everything we can within the limited powers we have, to prepare for and respond to the situation.  For several weeks now we’ve been sending out a strong message that potential visitors should ‘think twice’ about coming to Dorset.  

However, since you announced on Sunday 10 May that lockdown was to be gradually eased and that people can “travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance” and “you can sit on a beach”, both we and Dorset Police have had very limited powers of enforcement.  

For example, since the recent guidance came into effect, the Police have no longer been able to challenge road users as to whether their journeys are essential. In other words, we have limited ability to deal with the large visitor numbers and issues like the lack of social distancing and the negative impact on local communities. 
Ahead of this announcement there was no communication with local councils about how we might manage this influx, including the need for car parking, public toilets and most importantly for beaches, the provision of Lifeguards.  I understand that concern was being raised by Ministers last week about the lack of Lifeguards – surely this is a conversation that should have happened before your announcement?  
All our public services are very stretched due to weeks of responding to the COVID19 outbreak and other major incidents such as the wildfire at Wareham Forest. 

My plea to the government is to review the travel advice currently in place and instead ask people to “stay local”.  I am concerned that we will see a second wave of infection here in Dorset because of the high number of visitors to the area over recent days.

I’m asking the government to act now to save the lives of Dorset residents. Please help us to help them by issuing a revised guidance telling people to stay local for the time being.
BCP has been very active on a number of fronts at considerable financial cost
An Unbalanced Budget

BCP is struggling to balance the books.

It is experiencing significant financial problems:  lost income £24 million; reduced Council Tax and Business Rates £12 million; unbudgeted additional expenditure £14 million; planned efficiency improvement delayed £3 million; total £ 53 million

Government grants amount to £22 million leaving a local shortfall of £31 million

The public health emergency has resulted in extra pressures on services in support of the most vulnerable; the elderly, disabled and homeless. This includes getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting new shielding programmes for clinically extremely vulnerable people, and assisting the public sector and social care workforce. 

At the same time the council’s income base is collapsing with leisure centres shut, seafront services closed, and parking fees not being generated, as well as lower council tax and business rates yields.

This loss of income represents a real reduction in the resources available to fund local services and will mean that, without further government funding, the council will have to fundamentally recast its 2020-21 budget. 

BCP have issued over £71 million in Grants to support businesses in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

They have received applications from 90% of the businesses they know are eligible. The grant process is not automatic and the remaining 10% of Business Ratepayers that have not yet applied are encouraged to do so using the online application process as soon as possible. There may also be other businesses who are not on council records who may be eligible. The e-forms and eligibility criteria are available online.

Providing all the information supplied is accurate, BCP aim to make payments within 7 working days.

A coalition of local organisations has been established to take appropriate actions to support places and businesses re-opening across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Led by BCP Council, the Economic Recovery Task Force will bring together the voices of key stakeholders in the local business community. By working together, they aim to help local businesses resume trading in a safe and coordinated manner in the coming weeks and months.

Aiding with the recovery process, this task force will highlight the latest guidance, share expert advice, develop new initiatives and raise awareness for the support available to local business owners and employers.

Businesses not eligible for Government funding through previous COVID related financial support schemes are invited to apply for a discretionary grant.

There will be a two-week window in which businesses can apply for the additional funding and as the number of applications is expected to exceed the available funding, businesses are encouraged to fill in the online form before the deadline at midnight, 14 June.

 Here is where you can check eligibility and apply

Residents who are signed up to the Home Library Service will soon benefit from the reintroduction of delivery of books to their doorsteps.

More than 400 residents, many of whom are vulnerable and isolated, would normally access the Home Service and have not been able to have their usual deliveries of library books since lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

BCP Council’s libraries, working with the Council's Together We Can volunteers and the Royal Voluntary Service, will be contacting existing clients to safely deliver books to them. Later, the service is aiming to offer the Home Library Service more widely and to provide deliveries of books and toys from our toy libraries to vulnerable families.

Test and Trace

Local authorities will be central to supporting the new test and trace service across England, with the government providing a new funding package of £300 million.

Each local authority will be given funding to develop tailored outbreak control plans, working with the local NHS.

Their plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.

Data on the virus’s spread will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre to inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving, working with national government where necessary to access the testing and tracing capabilities of the new service.

Local communities, organisations and individuals will also be encouraged to follow government guidance and assist those self-isolating in their area who need help. This will include encouraging neighbours to offer support and identifying and working with relevant community groups.

No Air Festival

Major events and festivals including Bournemouth Air Festival that were due to go ahead this summer have been cancelled due to the continued impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Responding to the government’s guidance on the outbreak, BCP Council - with support of Destination Management Board - has taken the decision not to permit outdoor events on council public open space until the end of August 2020. 

This includes the cancellation of BCP Council organised events - the Bournemouth Air Festival, Summer Fireworks, and summer events programme on Poole Quay.  Other events that have had to be cancelled include BSO Concerts in Meyrick Park and Christchurch Food Festival.

The government’s guidance indicates that hospitality businesses are not likely to open before July. There are many hotels, restaurants, bars, and local contractors serving this industry whose livelihoods rely on the summer events programme.

BCP Council and Destination Management Board for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will continue to work together in lobbying central government to ensure this vital sector is fully supported through the national recovery plan. 

David Bailey, Chairman of the Destination Management Board, said; “The Board fully understands the decision taken by BCP Council. It is very important that as the Destination of Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole we show we are taking the sensible measures and demonstrate that in the future we want to offer visitors and residents the safest environment to enjoy the unique tourism and hospitality offer.   We thank BCP Council for its continued support and the confirmation of next year’s Bournemouth Air Festival.

A Bournemouth Air Festival for next year has been confirmed for Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 September 2021.

Business continue to suffer

Peeks, the long established and well-known party supplies company based on Avon Trading Park, Christchurch has called in the liquidators. It sold its partyware online, from a mail order catalogue and from its shop in Reid Street.

Peeks was founded by Bournemouth-born Charles Peek, an RAF navigator in the Second World War. He began the business with a small shop in Tuckton shortly after the war and went on to sell giftware from lock-up garages. The firm grew and by the 1950s, Peeks was hiring children’s rides and sideshow equipment. In the 1970s, it began distributing a colour catalogue to pubs and hotels across the country.

But the coronavirus lockdown forced it to close the store at a key time of year, without the boost from the parties that would have taken place to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The internet and mail order side of the business closed along with the shop when the lockdown began, and the crisis put an end to restructuring plans. The company voluntarily appointed Portland Business Support as liquidators. The liquidator’s statement of affairs is understood to show trade creditors of £121,760.

Another Judicial Review

BCP has been threatened with legal action over its approval of the controversial Christchurch police station development. It has been served with a judicial review pre-action protocol letter alleging that the decision made by its planning committee in February was “unlawful”.

The council’s planning committee approved Aster Homes’ application to redevelop the disused land between Barrack Road and Bargates, despite strong opposition.

Four grounds for challenging the decision are outlined within it: that the council did not comply with biodiversity policies when considering the application; that it was improperly advised regarding the “ecological corridor” proposed for the site; that it applied the “incorrect test” when considering the impact the scheme would have on people living in neighbouring Twynham Avenue; that it “erred in law” by not considering minimum living space standards for the new homes.

The letter puts two options to the council to avoid full proceedings being launched – that more stringent conditions be added to the committee’s decision, or that it is overturned. The conditions requested include ensuring all the homes meet living space standards and that the ecological corridor is at least 10m wide for its entirety.

A spokesman for BCP Council said: “We can confirm that a letter was received on 29 April. The contents are being reviewed and legal advice is being provided and a formal response will be sent in due course.”

The Mortgage Holiday

The availability of a three-month mortgage holiday was first announced in March as part of an unprecedented package of support for individuals, businesses, and the economy. Over 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays were taken up, and the first of these will be coming to an end in June.

People affected will be contacted by their lender to discuss a way forward. Where residents can afford to re-start mortgage payments, it is in their best interest to do so. However, if people are still struggling and need help, a full extension of the mortgage holiday for a further three months will be available as one of the options open to them.

The Financial Conduct Authority has published new draft guidance for lenders which will set out the expectations for firms and the options available to their customers. This includes extending the application period for a mortgage holiday until 31 October so customers that have not yet had a payment holiday and are experiencing financial difficulty will be able to request one.

The current ban on repossessions of homes will be continued to the same date.

Some good news

Regular readers will know that from time to time we try to keep you aware of the inroads that artificial intelligence is making in various aspects of our lives. Poole Harbour is one of the world's largest natural harbours and has been recognised internationally as an important area for nature conservation, designated as a Special Protection Area.

A new AI system has been launched to protect its ecosystem. A pilot scheme will start at Poole Park's lake, which is connected by a sluice channel to the harbour, before introducing the project to the whole harbour. What is hoped is the scheme will make it easier to monitor, protect and ultimately improve the harbour's water ecosystem.

It will work by utilising data from a network of water quality sensors, continually monitored in real time by artificial intelligence analysis. Backed by BCP Council, the know how comes from the firm UnifAI Technology Ltd, which is providing the equipment. Data collected will help better understand, manage, and predict events created by bacterial build-up, sewage, fertilizer run-off and industrial discharges.

Cllr Felicty Rice, BCP environment member, said:
"Unfortunately, there are many factors affecting the wildlife and plants in the harbour. For example, tyre dust from cars and lorries gets washed into the water, along with products used in the farming industry, and even the medications that we use ourselves (such as anti-depressants, contraceptive pills and diabetic medication) can end up in the water course system – so we are really keen to understand how we can best preserve this amazing natural feature which is right on our doorstep."

If you have yet to renew your membership, you can do so by posting or hand delivering £1 (plus any small additional contribution you might like to make) to 82 Hurn Road, Christchurch. The house is at the junction of Hurn Road, Marlow Drive and St Catherine's Way being the first bungalow in the service road heading towards the airport.

Alternatively, you can make an electronic inter-bank funds transfer to

Name:             Jumpers & St Catherine's Hill Residents Association

Sort code:       40-13-07

Account:          927 321 06

N.B. Some members have experienced problems with this facility with the bank system telling them that the name of the account is “wrong”. Only HSBC can sort the problem out and that is not going to happen in the short term. Provided you have the sort code and the account number correct, the payment will arrive and if you e-mail us separately, we will confirm receipt for you.

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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