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Why we have increased council tax

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 15:05

Council tax contributions for Dorset Council will increase by just under 4% to help fund the rising cost of adult social care and children’s services, protecting the most vulnerable people in society.The increase will also protect so called ‘discretionary’ services which are services a council can choose to provide but does not have to, such as country parks, weed clearing and school crossing patrols. Dorset councillors are keen to avoid any reductions in services for residents.

Why do social care services need more funding? Growing demand…

Social care provides essential care and assistance for children and young people at risk of harm, people with disabilities and older people who need extra support.

We are legally required to provide social care, and these services are often expensive to provide. Well over half of our total budget is spent on adults’ and children’s social care.

Demand for both adults’ and children’s care has been rising rapidly over recent years and this growth is forecast to continue into the foreseeable future. As our population ages, people are living longer with increasingly complex health conditions. We’re also caring for and supporting more children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Why can’t the council fund social care without increasing council tax?

Since 2010, central government grants to councils have been cut by nearly 60%. We no longer receive any Revenue Support Grant from central Government. Instead, the Government expects us to raise the funding we need through council tax. This is why 2% of the increase in council tax is what is known as a ‘social care precept’ – in other words, central Government is encouraging councils to increase council tax specifically in order to fund the growing cost of social care.

As you can see from this chart showing our sources of funding, Dorset Council is very dependent on council tax for income. Unlike some other councils, we get relatively low income from business rates and other sources.

Efficiencies, not cuts

Since the reorganisation of local government and the creation of Dorset Council on 1 April 2019, we have already achieved cost reductions of around £17m. Here are some examples:

  • A reduction in the number of senior officer roles, and removal of duplication across support services like finance, HR and IT
  • A reduction in the number of councillors from 204 to 82
  • Cost reductions have been made on insurance, audit fees, banking and other activities where the council only has to pay for one organisation rather than six.

Next year, we plan to make further multi-million pound savings by:

  • reducing the number of properties and land the council owns
  • reducing travel and transport costs
  • procuring services and products for the council more efficiently
  • and changing the way we provide services so it’s a better experience for residents but delivered at lower cost.

All savings are reinvested into essential services for residents such as social care, highways and waste collection.

Our councillors are also lobbying Government for fairer funding for Dorset, particularly for special educational needs and disabilities and social care.

Protecting services

Our aim is to get the council working more efficiently, reducing the cost of overheads, and ensuring more of the council’s resources go into services for residents.

Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said: “We would of course prefer not to raise council tax. However, we are left with no choice due to a steady decline over recent years in the overall funding from central government and the rising cost of adult social care and children’s services. The alternative would be to cut discretionary services such as country parks, weed clearing and school crossing patrols which neither I nor my colleagues wish to do.

“As an advocate for Dorset, over recent months I have lobbied Government for fairer funding – particularly for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and social care. As a result, we did secure a much needed additional £10m funding from Government in the autumn spending review. I will continue to make the case for Dorset with Government throughout the coming year.

“We have a statutory obligation to deliver many of our services. And looking after our most vulnerable residents is very important to us. And it is also important that we achieve a balanced budget through efficiency, not cuts.”

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Categories: Dorset

Full Council meeting: 18 February 2020 – Questions and answers

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 13:01

These are the questions formally submitted by both the public and councillors at Tuesday’s Full Council meeting for February 2020, and the answers given.

Questions submitted for Public Participation Period

Question – submitted by Paul N Tomlinson, Chairman of the former Dorset, Poole & Bournemouth Local Access Forum

Local access forums

“Section 94 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires each local highway authority to establish an independent advisory body, known as the Local Access Forum.  Once appointed by the authority the Forum’s primary function is to advise the authority and other public bodies as to the improvement of public access to land in its area for the purpose of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area.

The legislation provides for the establishment of joint Local Access Forums to serve adjacent authorities and in the early 2000s Dorset County Council and Bournemouth and Poole Borough Councils set up the Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Joint Local Access Forum.  Forum members represent a range of local interests concerned with improving public access to the countryside, including both users of local rights of way or access land – such as walkers, horse-riders and cyclists and also owners and occupiers of access land or land used by local rights of way.

When the three local authorities became two this created a need to revise the membership and administrative arrangements for the LAF.  What concerns the members of the earlier Forum is that we have been unable to get any information at all from the two Unitary Authorities as to their plans to reconstitute the LAF, so that its members can continue to address their statutory role.  The information on Dorset Council’s website about the Local Access Forum is some years out of date, and since it last met in November 2018 none of the members of the earlier LAF have received any communication about how the Forum will be reconstituted.  Dorset Council officers may need to have to undertake discussions with their counterparts in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council about whether they wish to continue with a joint forum, but existing Forum members cannot understand why this has taken so long, and why they have not been kept informed of progress.  This is despite members of the Forum (and organisations with an interest in its work) having repeatedly asking officers and members of both councils for information.

Leaving aside the fact that the Council has a statutory duty to maintain a Local Access Forum, the advice that a functioning Forum would be able to provide would directly support the priorities set out in the draft Dorset Council Plan.  The sections concerning the “unique environment” and “strong healthy communities” both fit well with the LAF’s role.  For example access to rights of way, country parks and countryside are specifically mentioned under “strong healthy communities”.  It is also puzzling that despite its statutory role the LAF is not mentioned in the Plan as a body with which Dorset Council will work.

Question:

Members of the LAF, as it existed at the end of 2018, ask the Council for a timetable for the re-establishment of the LAF, either a discrete LAF for Dorset Council or a joint LAF with BCP Council.

Thank you.

Response from Cllr Ray Bryan

 With the merger of the 6 councils to form Dorset Council and 3 councils to form Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council – the Dorset Local Access Forum has been put on hold to take the opportunity to put in place the necessary resources to adequately support it.

The Council recognises the invaluable role of the Dorset Local Access Forum as a statutory independent advisory body to a wide range of decision-making organisations – including local authorities – about making improvements to public access – public rights of way and greenspace – for outdoor recreation and sustainable travel.

The work of the Forum is increasingly pertinent with regards to current social, environmental and economic issues such as public health, climate change and tourism.  Current preparations will ensure that the Forum is aligned with structures and services across the new Dorset Council – recognising the Forums integral role helping to address and move forward this important area of work.

The Forum will continue as a joint body and will be contacted regarding recruitment and a timetable for subsequent future meetings. We anticipate the next meeting of the Dorset Local Access Forum to be in May.

Statement by David Redgewell (South West Transport Network). Read out by John Collingwood

“We are unhappy with proposed cuts to the Crewkerne – Beaminster – Bridport hospital bus services from May 2020.

First Wessex have withdrawn operations on their portion of service 6 but First South West have still maintained their part of the route.  Buses of Somerset are maintaining Yeovil bus services.

Will Dorset County Council work with Somerset County Council, Bridport Town Council, Beaminster Town Council and Crewkerne Town Council to maintain and improve services between Bridport – Dorchester South – Lyme Regis – Axminster and Yeovil as well as ensure that buses services are provided on Sunday’s and weekday evenings.

Currently, it seems as though there will be no Sunday services until the 1st May 2020.

We would like to see progress on disabled access to Dorchester South and Dorchester West stations, also at stations on the Bristol – Weymouth line rail partnership as well as a lift at Wareham station.

The £299000 subsidy allocation from the DFT is most welcome and we would like it to be used on improvements to local bus services.

We would also like to see through ticketing on the service 30 between Taunton and Axminster”.

Question submitted by Prof Tony Walter

Dorset’s 2020-2033 Waste Plan embraces the waste hierarchy – the priority is waste reduction, then re-use and recycling, then recovery of materials or energy, and only then disposal. The plan accepts incineration as a means of energy recovery from residual waste so long as it does not mean burning waste that otherwise would or could be managed further up the waste hierarchy (Policy 6.b, p. 76).

I have two concerns about this:

1) Evidence from across the UK has shown incineration can reduce recycling rates. In her recent report A Burning Problem: How Incineration is Stopping Recycling, Baroness Jenny Jones writes: ‘There is a logic to generating energy from the waste that we cannot recycle, or reuse, but it is meant to be the last resort. What we have created instead is a market driven system of incinerators which constantly need to be fed. Many councils have signed long term contracts with incinerators and these have some of the worst recycling rates in the country. In fact, many of these councils have gone backwards and recycle proportionately less than they did six years ago.’

2) The Waste Plan (3.13) aims to ‘contribute towards a zero waste economy’ – a circular economy (3.17) in which waste is designed out of production and consumption, so resources can be used for as long as possible – but currently impeded by lack of national policy. Prof Ian Boyd, DEFRA’s chief scientific adviser, is concerned that building new incinerators that last 30-40 years could– by destroying resources – undermine a circular economy once national policy and new technology enable this. *

I therefore ask:

  • How would DC ensure that the proposed Portland incinerator would not undermine a) Dorset’s good record of recycling and b) its long term aspiration for a circular economy?

* http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/9c6b4590-5882-4464-a945-29783d4af339  (from15:17:12) 

Response from Cllr Tony Alford

Dorset has one of the best recycling rates in the country, with a recycling rate of 59.6% in 2018-19. These high recycling rates have been achieved through the implementation of the waste hierarchy where waste is reduced, reused and recycled before it is treated and ultimately disposed of. These principles are underpinned in our Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Dorset which sets out how we will deal with our waste until 2033.

Over the last 15 years Dorset has reduced the amount of black bag waste collected by nearly 50%. This has largely been achieved through the introduction of the recycle for Dorset collection service through the Dorset Waste Partnership, where we increased the amount of recyclable and compostable material we collect at the kerbside and restricted the amount of rubbish we collect.  This high performing collection service, along with our ongoing education and behaviour change activities, will continue to maintain Dorset’s high recycling performance irrespective of our waste treatment and disposal arrangements for black bag waste.

In 2019 Dorset sent approximately 70% (60,000 tonnes) of “black bag” residual waste to waste treatment.  The remaining 30% (of the residual) is landfilled and is from the Household Recycling centres and other bulky wastes.

The waste treatment involves a mechanical and biological treatment (MBT), where recyclable material such as metals are recovered and organic material composted, and the remainder is bailed and sent to Energy from Waste facilities (incineration) as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).  RDF contains materials that are too contaminated for recycling to be economically or practically feasible.

Since 2011 Dorset’s recycling rate has risen to and maintained around 60%, and there is no indication that the use of waste treatment facilities has had a negative impact on Dorset’s recycling performance.

The proposal at Portland is being promoted by Powerfuel. The proposal is for the management of Refused Derived Fuel (RDF) not black bag waste.

To date the Waste Planning Authority has engaged with Powerfuel and provided pre-application advice. No planning application has yet been made for Powerfuel’s intended proposals for an Energy Recovery Facility on Portland.  If, and when a planning application is submitted, it, and the accompanying environmental statement, will be subject to full public consultation.  Any future consideration of a proposal would have full regard to local and national planning policies, including the policies relating to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling, the protection of the environment and local amenity and climate change.

Managing waste thorough energy from waste facilities should support, not compete with, increased diversion from landfill and increased recycling.

Question submitted by Kira Robinson

On May 16th 2019 the Dorset Council recognised a state of Climate Emergency stating
“We have an opportunity and an obligation to demonstrate leadership – thinking globally about the implications of climate change and acting locally to help address it in our communities.

In December Dorset Council took the initiative to make a request for ideas from the public to help tackle the task ahead. Around this same time South Western Energy Ltd (SWEL) submitted plans to drill a single vertical oil well near the village of Puddletown.

This proposal is obviously inconsistent with the Councils efforts to move towards a more sustainable future for Dorset. It also contradicts the wishes of the Puddletown Parish council, who have rejected the plan stating it “will have an adverse effect on the natural environment, biodiversity and rich wildlife.” And expressing concerns that the “track” used as access for up to 8 tankers is in fact a public bridleway, already congested from vehicular use.

The local community have also rejected the idea of drilling for dirty oil on their doorsteps. To date, the planning application has directly received over 100 objections on the councils website. An online petition has collected more than 800 signatures with paper petitions adding over 100 more.

The Governments own wildlife adviser, Natural England, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the environment agency have all criticised the applications flawed ecological assessments especially regarding the threat of pollution to potable water supplies, nearby river Piddle and to the areas sensitive chalk stream, Devils Brooke.

The Dorset councils draft 4 year plan sites “It is clear that the climate and ecological emergency must inform the council’s decisions and actions for the foreseeable future”.

To that end I ask;

Will Dorset Council demonstrate leadership and influence and say no to South Western Energy and say no to new fossil fuel extraction in Dorset?

Response from Cllr David Walsh

You have rightly mentioned that Dorset Council is working towards a more sustainable future. This must be considered in the context of what a local authority has the remit to influence. Minerals and energy are subject to national policies which Dorset Council is not at liberty to change. The National Planning Policy Framework states the following: ‘It is essential that there is a sufficient supply of minerals to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy and goods that the country needs. Since minerals are a finite natural resource, and can only be worked where they are found, best use needs to be made of them to secure their long-term conservation’ (para. 203). It adds that ‘Minerals planning authorities should…when planning for on-shore oil and gas development, clearly distinguish between, and plan positively for, the three phases of development (exploration, appraisal and production)…’ (para. 209).

The adopted Minerals Strategy sets out policies for hydrocarbons in Dorset which are consistent with national policy and reflect the fact that Dorset hosts nationally important energy minerals which society is still dependent upon until such times as human energy needs can be entirely decarbonised. It is a matter of law that planning applications for the exploration, appraisal or development of onshore oil and gas must be considered on their merits, having regard to the adopted local plan and national policy. Therefore, Dorset Council is not in a position to refuse planning permission for oil and gas development on climate grounds. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Dorset Council would be able to change its local policies to resist hydrocarbon development on climate change grounds unless and until there is a change in national policy. To refuse applications on these grounds alone would most likely result in an appeal to the Secretary of State and in all probability an award of costs against the Council. For these reasons Dorset Council will continue to focus its efforts on working positively to deal with the climate emergency within the remit of those matters it is able to affect or influence.   This does not prejudice the responsibility of the Council to determine planning applications objectively having regard to relevant material planning considerations.

Statement by Prof Marfleet

All Dorset councillors will now be aware of the pressing question of income poverty in the county – and especially in South Dorset. You may not, however, be aware of all the implications:

  • persistent low wages have a cumulative impact on households, and especially on children. This explains why in some areas of the county child poverty now exceeds 40 per cent;
  • there’s a close correlation between poverty wages and ill-health, including problems of mental health. Did you know that suicides increased by almost 40 per cent in Dorset last year, the highest level since records began … and that suicides are concentrated in the areas of greatest deprivation in the county? Here’s food for thought … while suicides in Dorset increased at an alarming rate, the number of suicides in the BCP area fell significantly!
  • chronically low wages are driving away our young people. Many of those who can leave – especially if they have appropriate qualifications – do leave, and don’t return. Among those who remain, job opportunities are depressed by employers who take advantage of the low-wage economy by violating the law on pay, contracts and in-work benefits. This is becoming a systemic problem, especially in South Dorset – and especially in leisure, hospitality, retail and the care sectors, which dominate the local economy;
  • out-migration is a key factor driving Dorset’s impending demographic crisis. Do you know that in a few years the ratio of those employed in the county to those who are not economically active (mainly those retired) will be 1:1? This is the dependency ratio – and at 1:1 it is not sustainable – it will leave the county in deep trouble;
  • chronically low wages have their impact on local businesses – less to spend, less commercial income and more business failures. This is part of the syndrome which leads to a collapse in new business starts. Weymouth & Portland dominates the Dorset Council area demographically … but here, where wages are lowest, the number of new companies is a fraction of those established elsewhere in the county and in BCP.

Other councils in our region have recognised similar problems and have intervened, using their local powers. The key issue is the minimum wage. We need to put a floor under wages. Cornwall shares many economic and social problems with Dorset – and there the council has become a Living Wage employer, guaranteeing the Real Living Wage (that’s £9.30 an hour) to all its employees and all those on contracts issued by the council. The City of Bristol is also an accredited Real Living Wage employer … and has showed real leadership by contacting hundreds of local businesses and asking them to do the same …. 180 have so far followed this lead (in contrast, in the whole of south and west Dorset there are just 12 Living Wage employers).

Next door to us in Devon, East Devon District Council is discussing a poverty strategy that addresses issues of incomes, rent, rural isolation, debt and general well-being. So if you live in Honiton or Axminster the council is actively engaged in addressing your problems. If you live over the border in Lyme or Beaminster – or if you’re in Sherborne or Wyke or Swanage or Ferndown … bad luck!

Months ago our community campaigns made policy proposals to the Executive Advisory Panel. They involve three sorts of measures:

  • For the Council to declare publicly its commitment to meet legal requirements on the National Minimum wage, Equal Pay for women, and terms and conditions of employment – and its expectation that all employers with contracts serving the Council will do the same. This sends out an important message.

 

  • The Council to prepare to introduce the Real Living Wage – as in Cornwall, Bristol and elsewhere – and take the lead in encouraging others to follow suit.
  • The Council to take the lead in educating our young people about rights at work – providing our schools and colleges with sessions on wages, contracts and entitlements – and backing these up with local workshops and advice.

I hope the response from the Cabinet is not: “we can’t afford it – we’re not going there”. Please do not tell your constituents that what’s good enough in Avonmouth or Truro or Sidmouth can’t be done in Weymouth or Portland or Sturminster Newton.

Our current prime minister has said he’s intent on “levelling up” economic and social circumstances in the UK. Setting aside my scepticism about his agenda, I note the words – “levelling up”. This means starting at the base – and it’s essential that this Council takes on the challenge … if you won’t, Councillors, it’s grim message for your constituents … who are after all the people who elect you and judge you on your record.

Question submitted by Prof Marfleet

In July 2019 I asked the Council to address as a matter of extreme urgency the crisis of poverty incomes and collapsing social mobility in South Dorset. There is no tangible evidence of progress: most important, there is no sign of policy proposals from the Executive Advisory Panel charged to report on these issues. Other local authorities are intervening directly to tackle wage poverty and social deprivation.

Why is Dorset Council apparently unable to take the initiative?

Response from Cllr Gary Suttle

To advise that he will read out his detailed response after Jenny Lennon-Wood’s statement and question.

Statement by Jenny Lennon-Wood

Councillors, I am asking you to take a few moments to consider the daily lives of people whose pay is so low that they don’t earn enough to live on, or whose jobs are so insecure that they can’t be sure from day-to-day whether they will have work and be able to fund their living costs. Many people in our county work in low-waged, seasonal jobs like catering, leisure and retail. Many more work in the care sector where employers are notorious for refusing to treat travel between service-users as paid working time. Others, living in rural areas are unable to travel to low-paid jobs because public transport has either been cut or is prohibitively expensive. For these workers, daily life is a struggle: will income cover necessities like a home, food, heating and clothing? Unforeseen costs like medicines or housing repairs can tip the balance. Parents frequently go without food so that their children can eat. Even so, children often go to school hungry and, during school holidays, food banks do their best to make up for the loss of the main daily meal. Hungry children can’t get the best out of their education and impoverished parents can’t afford extras like school trips. So the one-third of Dorset’s children who live in poverty are doubly disadvantaged in the education system. Dorset Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2016-2019 asserts that “reducing inequalities remains a priority for the Health and Wellbeing Board. This is because many of the patterns of ill-health and early deaths that we see are linked with inequality in Dorset.” So taking a lead to end the inequalities that stem from poverty pay and poor quality jobs has to be a Council priority. Another inequality that needs to be addressed is Dorset’s increasing gender pay gap, which currently stands at 29%, in shocking comparison with the 8.9% national average. Undoubtedly this reflects the fact that women are among the worst affected by poverty pay. I note, from Dorset Council’s submission to the House of Lords Report on the Future of Seaside Towns, that “There is a drive to increase the productivity, skills and wage levels across the County and in particular in some of the coastal towns (e.g. Weymouth & Portland) which have the lowest wage levels.” There seems little evidence of this “drive” in the parts of the county where low pay, insecure jobs and zero-hours contracts are rife. Here, low paying employers are being subsidised by taxpayers through the benefits that their employees are forced to claim to survive. This grim situation serves only to bring down the economy of the county as a whole. I urge Dorset Council to ensure that the Economic Development Executive Advisory Panel considers WeyPAW’s proposals without further delay so that policy to tackle poverty pay and the associated unjust inequalities can be implemented urgently.

Question submitted by Jenny Lennon-Wood

The Full Council meeting on 18 July 2019 considered a motion requiring the Council to provide effective leadership to improve social mobility in Dorset. This motion was referred to the Economic Development Executive Advisory Panel. Subsequently, in September, Phil Marfleet gave a presentation to the panel on behalf of Weymouth and Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW) and provided panel members with some proposals to address the problems of poverty pay and insecure jobs in our county. For thousands of people living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet, this is a matter of great urgency. So my question is: how soon can we expect a report from the EAP?

Response from Cllr Gary Suttle to Prof Marfleet and Jenny Lennon-Wood

The original question on social mobility was referred to the Economic Growth Executive Advisory Panel.  The Panel has focused its efforts on: –

  • researching and developing the Economic Growth Strategy for Dorset Council, reflecting the corporate priority included in the Council Plan, and engaging with the business community and other stakeholders. The final draft strategy will be brought to Cabinet for approval in the near future
  • informing and influencing the Local Industrial Strategy for Dorset (LIS) developed by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, and submitted to Government in December 2019 for approval and publication

The Panel reviewed evidence on social mobility, looking at indicators and geographic spread across Dorset, including a presentation from Professor Marfleet.  The draft strategy indicates that the five foundations of productivity (as highlighted in the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy) are also the foundations of inclusive growth, and as such provide an appropriate basis upon which to tackle the issues.  The draft strategy states that inclusive growth is essential for Dorset, with the benefits of increased productivity and prosperity being experienced across Dorset and especially in areas experiencing multiple deprivation and challenges to social mobility.

The Economic Growth Strategy and the LIS will provide the strategic framework for improving social mobility across Dorset.  This will require long-term interventions to achieve a positive and sustainable outcome.  In the short-term the Council is providing leadership to drive improvement and is working with partners to deliver interventions such as the work of the Careers Enterprise Company.  In tandem with the Careers Hub focussed on Weymouth & Portland this will raise aspirations amongst young people, develop linkages between schools and business, and identify appropriate pathways for progression.  Other initiatives aimed at raising aspirations of young people are the Big Bang in Dorset (18 March 2020 raising awareness of career opportunities related to STEM subjects, and ‘Building Careers in Construction’ (14 May).

In his submission to the Council and the Executive Advisory Panel Professor Marfleet referred to the impact of low wages and the need to educate young people about rights at work.  He also asked for the Council to declare publicly its commitment to meet legal requirements on the National Minimum Wage, equal pay for women, and to prepare to introduce the Real Living Wage.  The full implications of these proposals for the Council and its partners in the delivery of services will need to be fully appraised, and if considered appropriate could take significant time to deliver.

The Councils draft Economic Growth Strategy will be presented to Cabinet for approval in Spring 2020.  This will provide the basis for a sustained approach to addressing the issues of social mobility.  In the short-term the issues are already being addressed through existing interventions such as the Careers Enterprise Company and Careers Hub.  The Council will provide leadership, collaborate with appropriate partners and seek to secure additional resources to improve social mobility across Dorset.

Questions submitted by councillors

Question 1 – submitted by Cllr John Worth 

“In the light of the on-going pressures on the council budget, would it not be more prudent, that rather than continuing with the sale of assets inherited from the legacy councils,  Dorset Council, where appropriate and possible,  forms its own development company in order to maximise profits and create an ongoing revenue stream?

After all you can only sell an asset once whilst a prudent investment can keep giving”.

Response from Cllr Tony Ferrari

In order to provide for the needs of Dorset Council, now and in the future, a mixture of both capital receipt and revenue income will be required from our property assets.

The Council holds a significant number of income producing assets in locations with strong occupier demand and rental growth prospects. Examples include the significant number of industrial estates across the County that, as well as generating a positive income return provide economic development benefit in providing suitable space for local businesses. The sale of income producing assets is generally only proposed where there is considered to be a significant risk to the income stream with a lack of growth potential or where there may be an opportunity to release enhanced value as highlighted by the proposed asset sales list.

Generally the type of assets identified on the list do not have obvious potential to obtain change of use to generate a positive income stream without significant investment and development risk.

As part of the work we are currently undertaking in preparation for the first draft of the Council’s new Asset Management Plan, we are pulling together a wide range of information regarding the properties which the Council owns in order to inform our future property policies. This piece of work will identify which properties give a positive benefit for the Council and the tax payer and which do not. We will be looking at the investment potential of the properties, together with development potential, including economic regeneration.

We will now go into a broad consultation in respect of all of the properties we are intending to sell.  We will be informing MPs, Councillors, Town and Parish Councils and local interest groups to obtain their views.  In some instances it will be difficult to work out which groups might be interested in the property so we will contact the local councillors to ask them who else we should add to the consultation list. As part of this process we will consider all opportunities, including those for retaining the asset to provide an income stream and we would welcome proposals from councillors to that effect.

The Council has the in house capability to design and build on sites that it owns and the ability to secure finance at competitive rates if suitable alternative use can generate positive returns from further investment. We have considered development company options in the past and might again in the future but there is little justification for the administrative effort and cost for the projects we are currently pursuing.  This may change in the future as plans for our assets evolve.

Question 2 – submitted by Cllr Maria Roe 

“Wimborne Town Football Club was founded in 1878 and has a long and proud history of achievements. The Magpies are in the Southern League Premier Division South. It is a committed community club that runs teams for 250 boys and girls, a ladies team, and it has two teams for people with disabilities. The club has several paid employees and runs a successful clubhouse with functions throughout the year.

The Football Club is located in an area known as Cuthbury which is to be developed into a housing estate. The club is due to move to a new football ground off the Leigh Road at Parmiter. The original S.106 agreement made in 2018 imposed a number of obligations on the developer which had to be complied with before development started on the new site. One requirement was that the new football ground at Parmiter had to be completed before the development of the site began at Cuthbury to ensure a smooth transition for the club.

A member of the public contacted me in late November to say that the situation had changed significantly. I discovered in December 2019 that a Deed of Variation had been made which enabled the developer to start work on the existing site before completing the new football ground in Parmiter leaving the club potentially homeless. This means that there is now a very high risk that the football club may have nowhere to play; for a semi-professional team, and also the local community, the consequences of this are catastrophic.

The Deed of Variation was carried out through delegated powers without any scrutiny or consultation. The football club was not informed, the ward members were not informed, town council and parish councils were not informed, and this is simply not acceptable.

My question to the portfolio holder is simply this: what will Dorset Council do to put this situation right?”

Response from Cllr David Walsh

The deed of variation allows the commencement of development, and the occupation of affordable housing, on the Cuthbury ground before the Parmiter ground is completed. However the developer remains obliged to evidence progress with the new football ground, with requirements that a detailed specification for the stadium is agreed with the Council before any development on the Cuthbury ground takes place. No market units can be occupied on the Cuthbury ground until the new ground is completed.

We are aware the developer has chosen not to renew Wimborne Town Football Club’s lease at the Cuthbury site when it runs out in May. This is a legal matter between landlord and tenant over which the Council has no control and a route which the developer was always entitled to take to enable site clearance and preparation to take place.

The Council is seeking to work with the developer to ensure the timely completion of the new football ground. We understand that the developer is currently aiming to hand over the football pitches to the football club in August, with the club house due to be handed over in September. We acknowledge that there is a period of uncertainty for the football club in the interim and officers will be exploring options with the developer and the football club, as a matter of urgency, to seek a position where the football club has certainty for the interim period.

Question 3 – submitted by Cllr Nick Ireland

Agenda item 13 (Pay Policy Statement)  highlights the fact that Dorset Council as an employer pays a lowest salary of £17,364 per annum, which equates to an hourly rate of £9.02 at the council’s 37 hours working week.

By contrast, according to the Living Wage Foundation, the real, minimum living wage is currently £9.30/hour (outside of London).

Other unitary authorities, Cornwall being a prime example, have not only moved to pay all their staff a minimum of the foundation real living wage but have gone much further in insisting their contractors and suppliers do the same as contracts come up for renewal.  This encourages staff retention and loyalty and brings benefits the local economy.

Given the regular appearance of various localities of Dorset Council’s demesne in indices of child poverty, social deprivation and low-wages, and considering the much repeated aspiration for Dorset Council to be ‘an employer of choice’, will the Leader as a minimum commit to ensuring all Dorset Council employees are paid at least the real living wage as established by the Living Wage Foundation and that this is revised appropriately on a yearly basis?

Response from Cllr Peter Wharf

The Council is required, under the provisions of the Localism Act to publish a Pay Policy Statement.  The purpose of this is one of transparency so that anyone who is interested can see the numerical relationship between the highest paid and those at the median.  It is therefore simply a matter of fact.

In producing the Statement, I have not reviewed the approach to setting pay levels.  To do so properly would be a very significant task and not one that would be undertaken on an annual basis.

As the Member points out the Council aspires to be an Employer of Choice. There is already a good deal of work underway and which will continue for the next few years in order to underpin this aspiration.

One important aspect is to review the employment offer that is the terms and conditions the Council puts in place in order to recruit and retain the best workforce possible.  Although we are at an early stage I would welcome the input of the appropriate Committee.  This would give us all the opportunity to better explore all of the issues in the round, including the level of pay and how that relates to the Living Wage.

I’m happy to discuss further with Cllr Ireland outside of this meeting.

Question 4 – Mike Parkes

Ferndown Town Centre – Regeneration Strategy 

In 2016 the former East Dorset District Council, working with Ferndown Town Council and Dorset County Council, commissioned consultants to investigate the feasibility of regenerating Ferndown Town Centre which involved extensive surveying of the buildings, open spaces, businesses, traffic flows and analysis of pedestrian footfall. The research culminated with a series of consultation sessions with key stakeholder groups and members of the public.

Following completion of the report, the Ferndown Town Centre Regeneration Strategy was approved by the sponsoring Councils in April 2017.

The strategy document identified seven projects which contribute towards a first phase of implementation with a second phase to be developed subsequently.

The advent of LGR meant that the only one of the seven projects was feasible for implementation prior to the council changes and money was ring-fenced from the former East Dorset District Council to make improvements to the Barrington Centre.

The work on the Barrington Centre is shortly about to commence, however at the time it was recognised by the representatives from each of the councils that this was one of the lower priorities but at the time was the most likely to be delivered. Notwithstanding this all were expectant and assured that the plan would move across the new Dorset Council.

Ferndown, like many other town centres across the country, has an economy that continues to decline and is unappealing to residents and visitors. The town struggles to retain existing businesses and is unlikely to attract new business without urgent investment that is needed to revitalise a dated town centre that has had little or no attention since the early 1980’s.

Can I please have an assurance that there is still a commitment to implement the Ferndown Town Centre Strategy and how the priorities contained within it will be overseen by Dorset Council, with an indication of what funds will be made available and the timescales for implementation of the various stages?

Response from Cllr Gary Suttle

The need for the regeneration of Ferndown Town Centre was recognised and addressed in the Strategy, which was received by the former local authorities ahead of local government reorganisation.

The importance of vibrant and sustainable towns was highlighted recently as the Council consulted on its Draft Economic Growth Strategy.  There are many towns and High Streets across Dorset facing challenges and needing investment to improve infrastructure, viability and productivity.  The new Council will need to take stock of the situation across Dorset and evaluate how it can best enable an appropriate response at a strategic and more local level.

Following the creation of Dorset Council, the various Directorates impacted by the strategy and responsible for the provision of services to the Ferndown area are being reviewed and restructured to make them fit for purpose.   The outcome of the reviews and implementation of blueprints for change will have implications for how services are delivered, and the buildings used for these purposes.  Combined with the review of Council assets and properties this requires that the Ferndown Town Centre Strategy be reviewed within the wider context of service provision, economic growth and Council resources.

Question submitted by Cllr Ryan Hope

Crematorium and the high levels of Nitride Oxide being produced

Weymouth Crematorium is located within my ward Westham, an area described statistically as an area of depravation. The Crematorium is a very built up area and is close to four schools, three being primary schools, and Budmouth Academy.

There was recently a press release in the Dorset Echo regarding Weymouth Crematorium and the high levels of Nitride Oxide being produced.

Around 95 per cent of coffins used in cremations are made from chipboard/MDF and funerals using these types of coffins produce the same amount of NOx gas as a car driving 2,280 miles or 3,650 cars driving past the crematorium during the course of a cremation.

People exposed to nitrogen oxides over a long period may experience respiratory issues and reduced lung function that can limit an active lifestyle. As well as the health implication this council declared a climate emergency July 2019 and oxide is a greenhouse gas.

Please can you tell me:

  • What plans do DC have for installing NOx filters into the Weymouth Crematorium and others in Dorset to reduce the levels of Nitride Oxide currently being exposed to our communities in Dorset?
  • What information is being given to bereaved families to equip them with the information they need to make more environmentally friendly, informed choices when saying goodbye to their loved one? 

Response from Cllr Tony Alford

Weymouth Crematorium is the only crematorium operated by Dorset Council and it operates under an Environmental Permit imposing stringent Government levels on emissions to ensure public safety. The Crematorium was amongst the first in the UK to install modern emission control technology and uses continuous monitoring to demonstrate compliance.

Nitrogen oxides are not included in current Government emission control requirements but this may change in the future.

There are very few crematoria that have emission controls for nitrogen oxides and these tend to be new facilities where the abatement plant is installed as part of the build. However, the council is in discussion with manufacturers to assess the feasibility of retro-fitting at Weymouth Crematorium and the likely cost. I will ensure that the outcome of this work is reported to Council.

Bereaved families make arrangements for their loved ones through Funeral Directors and the Council has less influence here. However, there is a growing trend for more environmentally friendly funerals and we will continue to liaise with Funeral Directors on this issue.

Question 6 submitted by Cllr Andrew Kerby

Dear Chair,

We are incredibly lucky in the new Dorset Council to have elected members that genuinely care about our younger people. I know that many of the fresh – and not so fresh faces are actively involved in providing a youth service for our young adults, teenagers and children. Whether that be directly through youth work, running a charity or in many cases, both.

I’m fortunate enough to volunteer with my young people, a role I take incredibly seriously.  We have some excellent youth centres – many are far more successful now than they ever were under the former Dorset County Council (DCC) and I very much recognise the hard-work and dedication that paid staff and volunteers contribute to ensuring our young people have a safe space to learn and grow.

This success of our community youth provision is made even more remarkable considering that many of the youth charities and groups, still, after all these years, have serious unresolved issues as a direct result of what I believe was a badly planned and implemented transfer.  Officers responsible for executing the dissolution of Dorset County Council’s former youth service currently view the transfer programme as a success, including the transfers where through no fault of the community groups or children, youth centres sat empty for years. Other youth charities have been left to pay thousands in fees, to rectify legal situations following botched transfers – taking money that should have been spent on providing frontline services.

Can we as Dorset Council acknowledge that there are and have been serious issues in the transfer of the youth service provision by the former Dorset County Council to the community, and that these problems are causing difficulties to community groups and are consequently damaging to our younger people.

Does Dorset Council agree to launch a full (no stone left unturned) review into the former DCC youth service transfer, not with an aim to reverse a decision, but to ensure learning takes place and is embedded into the new Council? Where the review encounters issues caused by the youth service transfer, I ask that steps are taken to rectify the problem and if necessary, funding from Dorset Council is sought to remedy the situation, so that no young person should mis-out or be made vulnerable as a result of poor administration and execution of policy by this council or previous councils.

Response from Cllr Andrew Parry

I am grateful for the question raised by Councillor Kerby, also for the warm welcome I was given by staff, volunteers and young people when I recently visited the Blandford Youth Club.  I share his sense of achievement where community groups have been able to develop thriving youth clubs in assets which the former County Council had agree to transferred to them, along with the huge range of sports, uniformed, and performing arts groups and others in Dorset which provide things to do, places to go, and opportunities to make a positive contribution.

But it is regrettable that he feels the needs to raise issues of concern about the transition arrangements for the transfer of youth centres. I would ask him to supply updated details to the Executive Director – People – Children, so that she can investigate these concerns.

Children’s Services is about to create new locality teams which will be community based and bring together a range of professionals in an integrated service. Crucial to this will the role of targeted youth workers who will be using their unique skills to focus on the contextual safeguarding of teenagers, that is understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families.

In discussions with the Leader & Executive Director for Children, we recognise the benefits in the setting up a cross-council Executive Advisory Panel (EAP), tasked with examining the predecessor Council’s youth offer. On the advice of the Monitoring Officer, the findings from this EAP, should be reported through the Peoples Scrutiny Committee and onto cabinet.

I will be formalising these arrangements with the scrutiny committees Chairman Cllr Somper, this week. I hope Cllr Kerby and other Councillors with a keen interest in Dorset Council’s commitment to children & young people, will wish to participate, so that, going forward we can all have renewed confidence in our Youth Offer.

 

 

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Categories: Dorset

Celebrating Care Day 2020

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:38

Today, Friday 21 February, is #CareDay20. A global celebration of Children and Young People with care experience.

Dorset Council is reimagining our services through partnering with Coram Voice to deliver the “New Belongings” programme.

Throughout the year, this partnership will develop a model for improving support for care leavers by working with the people with the best knowledge – care leavers. This will be based on engagement and involvement of young people as experts in their own experience.

As part of this work surveys will be used alongside a self-assessment tool to provide a baseline and inform action planning in a coproduction model with care experienced young people.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help said:

“This is a great opportunity for Dorset. We’re really proud to be one of only eight local authorities across England to be selected to work on this project.

“It’s so important that we work closely with our care experienced young people to make sure they have the right pathways into being independent, further education and employment opportunities.”

Dorset Council will work with existing care leaver forums or new groups of young people across the county to develop action plans based on care leavers’ priorities. Our care leaver groups will be supported to review and challenge the progress of the plans.

More information on the partnership can be found at www.coramvoice.org.uk or by searching #reimagining or #CareDay20 on Twitter.

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset Council News – out soon

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 15:35

The spring edition of our residents’ magazine, Dorset Council News, will be landing on your doormat this March.

Topics include council tax and budgets; the council’s priorities; an update on planning; the climate and ecological emergency; support for children and adults; and health and wellbeing.

There’s also news of the Visit-Dorset Attractions Festival taking place this April, helping you make the most of beautiful Dorset while enjoying some great money-saving offers.

About the magazine

The cost of the design, print and distribution of the magazine is fully funded by advertising income. This means we can provide residents with council news and information, without having to spend thousands of pounds on production and distribution costs.

It’s published three times a year, in March, June and November, and is delivered to all households in the Dorset Council area (around 180,000 homes). It’s also available in all Dorset libraries and on CD on request – contact the communications team.

The magazine is printed on paper from renewable sources, such as wood pulp, and is fully recyclable using your kerbside collection bin. If you receive a paper copy but would prefer an email version, please let the communications team know.

The communications team, Dorset Council. Email comms@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk or telephone 01305 858233.

Advertise in Dorset Council News

There are limited advertising spaces still available within the magazine. If you would like to promote your company or organisation to Dorset residents, please contact Chris Hill at the CIS Group on 01253 885777 or chris@cispress.com

89% of 1,000 readers who took part in a survey in summer 2019 about the magazine agreed that Dorset Council News is an important way to find out about council services.

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Categories: Dorset

News from our fostering recruitment team-2020 is well and truly underway

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:09

This is our first Foster in Dorset blog but we thought this was a great way to let you know about what we have been up to and what’s coming up.

Jo Thomson is a foster care recruiter. She is also a foster carer herself.

We love to get out and about meeting people and sharing ideas and we have hit the ground running in 2020 doing exactly that!

In January we had the pleasure of presenting to the Monday Club at St Mary’s Church in Dorchester as well as joining them for tea and cakes!  They loved hearing about the fostering process and real-life stories from our foster carers.

What made it even more valuable was hearing their own experiences of fostering either because they spent some time in care themselves or had relatives who had fostered.  One lady, now aged 78, grew up as child that fostered and talked about the positive impact this had on her life and how she remained in contact with many of her foster siblings.  There were some true success stories amongst them.  Very inspiring.

Part of the fostering approval process is a medical and it is important that applicants are fit to foster.  We receive enquiries from people who smoke, and although this doesn’t mean they can’t foster entirely, they would be restricted to an age of child they could foster.  Many enquirers actually use this as a perfect reason to stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, maybe lose some weight and become more active!  These are all the aspects that LiveWell Dorset offer support within Dorset for free!

We recently attended a forum with LiveWell to look at the service as part of their review and give feedback across aspects of engagement, delivery and marketing.  We are incredibly lucky to have this available to us in Dorset and we do regularly signpost potential foster carers towards this in order to remove any health barriers there maybe to them fostering.  If you’ve not heard of LiveWell, it really is worth a visit to their website where there are lots of self-help tools and resources as well as access to Wellness Advisers.

Once a quarter we meet up with other local authority’s fostering teams from across the South West.  We use these meeting to discuss and share ideas about fostering recruitment.  In January, the meeting was extended wider to include senior managers and share the findings from a research project that has been completed by Bath & North East Somerset Council regarding the recruitment and retention of Foster Carers.  We picked up lots of great ideas, but we were also pleased to see that our approach to recruiting is in line with those sharing best practise.

Last week we were at a job fair at Weymouth Job Centre.  These events are always great, and we always pick up some enquiries from people who had never realised being a Foster Care could be a career!

We are continually striving to spread the word and myth bust around fostering.  There are a lot of people out there thinking they are too old, not experienced enough, not in a relationship etc and therefore wouldn’t be a suitable Foster Carer!

If you are one of those people but like the idea of fostering, please get in touch with us.  You are probably more suitable than you think, and we would love to talk this through with you.  You can visit our website to find more information or to complete an enquiry form so we can contact you direct.  Or just give us a call on 01305 225568

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset’s £4.3 million to boost rural mobile connectivity

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 00:02

A bid led by Dorset Council has been awarded £4.335m to help understand how rural communities could benefit from next generation mobile connectivity.

Credit: Stephen Duncombe

A consortium of council, local, national and international partners plans to show that mobile infrastructure can be delivered cost effectively and sensitively to benefit rural businesses and communities.

The Dorset project is one of seven across the UK to be funded by the Government’s Rural Connected Communities competition over the next two years.

The total cost of the 5G RuralDorset initiative is £6.675m with the council contributing £150,000. The rest will come from industry and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Four trials in the county will look at innovative public, social and business uses of improved mobile coverage. They will test whether this connectivity can be delivered cheaper and quicker using existing masts, buildings and fibre wherever possible to minimise visual and other impacts on communities.

Agri-tech – new wireless technology on existing masts and fibre owned and operated by internet service provider Wessex Internet to allow innovative agricultural uses. These may include ‘smart’ farm controls, crop and livestock monitoring and using drones to spray more precisely and minimise chemical run-off into local water courses.

Lulworth Estate – new mobile services to unlock social and commercial benefits. These will include Vodafone bringing enhanced mobile phone coverage to the area for locals and the 1 million visitors who visit each year. Additional possible uses from tourism and education to healthcare will be considered.

Connected coast – improved safety along a section of the coast by upgrading access to digital communications for first responders and supporting organisations.

5G Innovation Accelerator – at Dorset Innovation Park, Winfrith. This Local Enterprise Zone and advanced-engineering centre already supports large and small companies that develop innovative connected products and services. New connectivity will support businesses operating in the county and across the supply chain to test and develop products in a collaborative and secure way.

Deputy Leader of Dorset Council Peter Wharf said:

“We are delighted to receive this funding. Improved connectivity is critical to our smart rural place aspirations and making Dorset a great place to live, work and visit.

“Introduced sensitively in our world-famous UNESCO-recognised coastline and the wider environment, 5G can help keep vulnerable people safe and well, deliver economic growth, and provide enhanced educational and social opportunities.

“This exciting project won’t banish all the county’s mobile phone not-spots but is an opportunity for Dorset to become a leader in Europe in understanding how next generation connectivity can positively transform the lives and economies of rural communities. We look forward to sharing our learning experiences with other parts of the UK.”

Unlike 3G and 4G, the term 5G doesn’t refer to a single thing but to an ecosystem of technologies – wireless communications, hardware and software – that together offer high quality network services.

Government is funding trials to see if the next generation of mobile services can be rolled out differently to help solve rural challenges. 5G builds on previous generations of wireless connectivity, so trial areas will also get 4G coverage.

The project will start in March 2020 and is due to be completed by end of March 2022. A list of frequently asked questions can be found here.

The 5G RuralDorset consortium includes Dorset Council, Vodafone, Wessex Internet, Excelerate Technology Ltd, Bournemouth University, Kimcell, Hugslock, Telint, Neutral Networks, University of Strathclyde, New Generation Internet Services and Satellite Applications Catapult.

More detailed plans for the trial sites are now being developed and there will be opportunities for people to find out more about the specific plans, ask questions and give their views.

To stay up to date on the 5G RuralDorset project follow @digitaldorset on Twitter, subscribe to the Digital Dorset e-newsletter or read the Digital Dorset blog.

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Categories: Dorset

Introducing #YourCouncilTaxBuys

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 15:40

We understand that council tax is a big part of your monthly outgoings. Therefore, we think it’s important to share with you how we spend your contributions to our overall budget.

As a unitary council, we provide over 450 services to 380,000 residents of Dorset.

Every weekday from now until the end of March we will be shining a light on different areas within these services. Search the hashtag #YourCouncilTaxBuys on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels.

You may be surprised just how far your council tax goes…

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset Council sets its budget and priorities for 2020/21

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 12:01

Councillors approved Dorset Council’s budget and agreed our priorities for 2020/21 at last night’s Full Council meeting (18 Feb).

They decided to increase council tax by just under 4% to help fund the rising cost of adult social care and children’s services, protecting the most vulnerable people in society. The increase also protects ‘discretionary’ services which are services a council can choose to provide but does not have to, such as country parks, school crossing patrols and weed clearing. Our councillors are keen to avoid any cuts to services for residents.

Here’s a clip of our Leader, Cllr Spencer Flower, after the Full Council meeting:

Last month, we published an article to explain why we were proposing a council tax increase

Our council plan

At the meeting, councillors also approved the council plan, which sets out our aspirations and priorities for the next four years. Our priorities are:

  • Economic growth
  • Unique environment
  • Staying, safe and well
  • Strong, healthy communities
  • Suitable housing

Our commitment to tackle climate change and reduce our carbon footprint cuts across all of these areas and is very much a priority for Dorset Council. Read more about our work on this issue.

Our overall goal is to make Dorset a great place to live, work and visit. Take a look at our plan.

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Categories: Dorset

Council wins funding to help rough sleepers

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 09:37

Dorset Council has been awarded nearly £500,000 of government funding to help tackle rough sleeping in the county.

Funding will help rough sleepers

This further grant of £472,470 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) follows a bid by Dorset Council’s Housing Team.

Dorset Council worked on the bid with The Lantern, Julian House, The Bus Shelter and Citizens Advice. The former Weymouth & Portland Borough Council also received funding in 2018.

The money will help continue the good work that has been taking place in Weymouth & Portland to reduce rough sleeping. It also means there is the opportunity to extend this work across Dorset.

The impact of the project in Weymouth is reflected in the reduction of rough sleepers from 18 in 2018 to 6 in 2019. However, despite an overall reduction in rough sleeping in Dorset from 35 in 2018 to 18 in 2019, other areas of Dorset have seen an increase. In North Dorset numbers have increased from one to four.

The money will enable Julian House and The Lantern to work across Dorset, to help get people off the streets and into accommodation and consolidate their work in Weymouth.

The services work with rough sleepers as well as those at risk of rough sleeping and those leading street-based lifestyles which may involve begging and street-drinking.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio holder for Housing at Dorset Council said: “This is great news for Dorset. We’re committed to reducing the number of rough sleepers in our county and to provide support to rough sleepers who have been re-housed to help them remain in accommodation. The funding will continue our existing partnership work and provides an important opportunity to extend this work across the rural areas of Dorset.”

Helen Bedser, Chief Executive of Julian House, one of the key organisations which will be delivering homeless services, said: “Over the past two years, working in close cooperation with organisations like The Lantern Trust, we have been able to make some real progress around rough sleeper numbers and, more importantly create positive outcomes for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“News of this increased funding is fantastic.  Not only will it allow us to build on that work, but it will also broaden it out to address the less visible aspects of homelessness such as in rural communities.  Long experience has shown that getting someone off the streets is just the start of their pathway away from homelessness.  Tailored support when they move into accommodation helps to ensure that they don’t fail and finish up back in a very vulnerable dangerous existence.”

Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should report it via StreetLink: streetlink.org.uk

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Categories: Dorset

Dorset to benefit from share of £1 million of funding for domestic abuse services

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 13:20

A further amount of just under £1m has been secured to help tackle domestic abuse across Dorset and Hampshire. This follows a similar award to the area in 2018.

Dorset Council is supporting Hart District Council who are leading on an innovative project to prevent domestic abuse and support victims across the region, securing £974,450 of additional funding.

The funding has been awarded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to continue work focused on early intervention and education, breaking down barriers faced by those in our most hard to reach communities and support people experiencing domestic abuse and keep them safe in their homes. Since starting, the project has already trained more than 170 champions across Dorset, made nearly 100 homes safer and increased awareness across health services and the community.

This new funding means that the success of Dorset’s Dragonfly Project provided by the You Trust will continue to operate in the county for another 12 months.

Each year around 1.3 million women and 600,000 men across the UK suffer some form of domestic violence and abuse.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Safety said:

“We are really pleased to have secured this additional funding to help people affected by domestic abuse in Dorset.

“It’s important that vulnerable people are reached early. I’m pleased that we are taking on new initiatives from Hampshire, as well as sharing our work with them. This is proving to be making a difference in helping to keep people safe across our communities.”

Kirsty Jenkins, Head of Community Services at Hart, said:

“I have seen the huge impact that these schemes have had on people’s lives and it is very exciting to know that we will be able to continue this successful work in Hart, and across Hampshire and Dorset.”

Partners involved include Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the You Trust.

Anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse can contact the confidential, free 24 hour helpline on 0800 032 5204 or by visiting www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dvahelp.

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Categories: Dorset

Durlston Country Park recognised as one of the south-west’s best for accessibility

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 15:01

Dorset Council’s Durlston Country Park in Swanage has scooped bronze in the South West Tourism Awards in the ‘Accessible and Inclusive Tourism’ category.

The award recognises the effort by staff, volunteers and disability organisations to make Durlston one of the best places in the south-west for people with disabilities to visit or volunteer.

Durlston now offers tablet-based tours in British Sign Language, Easy Read leaflets for people with learning disabilities, a Visual Story to help visitors with autism prepare for a visit, as well as ‘Tramper’ off-road mobility vehicles and friendly helpful staff and volunteers, trained in disability awareness along with many other resources.

Volunteering at Durlston is also now more accessible than ever, thanks in part to the National Lottery funded Everyone Needs a Shed! project which offers new ways to volunteer in a friendly, informal setting.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “We want to make Dorset’s fantastic coast and countryside accessible to as many people as possible, and this award represents a huge step along the way.

“As part of our ‘Durlston Pleasure Grounds’ project, over the next couple of years, we will be adding new accessible interpretation, improving paths, seating and access around the Park and creating a new sensory play trail.”

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Categories: Dorset

Have your say on priorities for Community Safety

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 14:10

A consultation to help shape community safety priorities in the Dorset Council area is online now.

 

The Dorset Community Safety Partnership (CSP) brings together organisations including the council, NHS and police to tackle community safety issues in the area. 

 

We want to hear your views

 The CSP has used crime data and findings from consultations to start working out the issues it should prioritise and include in its new Community Safety Plan.

 

The partnership has launched an online consultation to find out what people think about the priorities and what other community safety issues they think should be included.

 

Cllr Andrew Kerby, Chair of the CSP said:

 

“The CSP looks at how organisations respond to issues and highlights where lessons can be learned. We want to create safer communities, so we want to know what people think of the proposed priorities for the coming year.”

 

The consultation is open until 1 March. To complete it and find more information on the Dorset CSP go to www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/community-safety-partnership

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Categories: Dorset

Climate panel to hear ideas from public on how to tackle climate change

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 09:06

Dorset Council has invited people to present their ideas on how they think the Council can help tackle climate change.

The Inquiry Day sessions will feature members of the public and representatives from various organisations who made submissions as part of the Council’s Call for Ideas. This ongoing work asks for people to provide suggestions for how Dorset Council could change its practices and use its influence to mitigate carbon emissions and promote biodiversity across its services.

These ideas will be passed to the Council’s Task and Finish groups, which are collecting information and developing proposals according to five identified themes of work – Buildings, Natural Environment, Waste and Energy, Transport and Leadership and Influence.

A selection of submissions was picked by councillors and officers from people who had indicated they were willing to present their ideas to the Executive Advisory Panel on Climate Change. These people have been invited to one of the two sessions planned, which are also open to view by the general public.

The first Inquiry Day session will take place on Friday 21 February from 10am to 3pm, with the second on Tuesday 3 March from 4pm to 9pm. Both will be held in the Committee Rooms at South Walks House in Dorchester.

People who wish to attend but haven’t been invited to present should visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/inquiry-day to book a place to watch the proceedings. Please note that only invitees will be able to present to the panel.

Cllr Ray Bryan, chair of the Executive Advisory Panel on Climate Change, commented:

“Both councillors and officers are excited to hear more about these great ideas. We intend for the sessions to be friendly, informal and constructive, with the opportunity for councillors to ask questions and discuss the ideas being presented.

As we continue working hard on our climate strategy and action plan, it’s vitally important we engage with the communities that we work for. We want to tap into the creativity we have around Dorset as we consider all kinds of ideas on how to tackle the climate emergency we face; from small individual gestures to radical redesigns of the way we deliver services.

I’d like to thank everyone who has submitted an idea so far and would ask that everyone who wishes to hear about some of the things we are looking into to register their interest and come along to one of the Inquiry Day sessions.”

The first draft of Dorset Council’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan is due to be approved and available for public consultation in the summer.

For more information, please visit Dorset Council’s Climate Emergency webpage.

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Categories: Dorset

Sustainable transport works progress

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 17:58

Despite some pretty miserable weather and the theft of equipment and tools from site, work in Gillingham is on schedule.

Pavement narrowing near Cemetery Road almost complete

Night work to remove road lining and set up the temporary road layout for the work went well.

The narrowing of the pavement between Cemetery Road and Wyke Road, to provide an on-road cycle lane, will be finished by Friday 14 February and the pavement will reopen to pedestrians.

The final pavement surface layer will be laid later this month when this section of Le Neubourg Way has road patching work carried out and the refuge islands are installed.

Vegetation has been cleared from Wyke Road down to the Waitrose junction to enable the next phase of works.

When construction work reaches the Waitrose junction temporary off-peak (9am-4pm) signals will be needed so that ducting can be put across the road. Please look out for signs advising of dates nearer the time.

On Monday 24 February, temporary lights will be in place on Le Neubourg Way overnight from 9pm to 6am for material testing to be carried out.

Kerb realignment for the on-road cycle lane near Wyke Road Pedestrian routes

We’ve tried to minimise the number of barriers on site to avoid clutter and driver confusion. These mark out the works area, where construction workers and machinery can move about out of the flow of traffic. For your own safety, please do not walk within this area.

We know that the closure of pavements means that pedestrians have further to walk, and it may not be a direct route, but this is to keep residents safe and away from site traffic.

New crossings

There has been some confusion about the refuge island near Church View due to some older drawings online. There is currently a temporary pedestrian crossing in place and the old island will not be returned at the end of the scheme as controlled crossing points will be provided at the new signalised Waitrose junction. Although this is a less direct route for footpath users, the crossing will be only an extra 40m away.

Ducting being installed for the Waitrose junction

The post Sustainable transport works progress appeared first on Dorset Council news.

Categories: Dorset

Investigations for safety works

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 17:58

Activity on the Weymouth peninsula will increase next month when Dorset Highways start trial works.

Over three weeks, investigations will take place to explore how the disused railway lines could be removed from the area – with 25m-50m of track being removed to learn how best to complete any future removal.

From 2 March to 20 March, a highways gang will be working on the section of rail in the Pavilion Car Park next to the old station platform on the harbourside.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “There are several sections of rail that present a safety issue and work is ongoing to understand how to reduce the risk for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. We don’t yet know whether this will be through the removal of the lines or by infilling.

“We are working closely with Network Rail, which has decommissioned this branch line so it cannot be used again for transport.”

Network Rail is responsible for the old rail infrastructure, with highways responsible for maintaining the surrounding road.

The exploratory works by the Pavilion will cost around £25,000.

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Categories: Dorset

Here we go again! Storm Dennis on the way

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 13:21

The Met Office has issued a weather warning for Saturday 15 February.

Storm Dennis is expected to arrive around 12pm on Saturday lunchtime through to Sunday lunchtime. Storm Dennis is expected to bring outbreaks of rain, heavy and intense at times, with mist and fog over hills and coasts, and is expected to affect all of southwest England over the weekend.

At this stage, Storm Dennis is not expected to be quite as powerful as the recent Storm Ciara in terms of strength of wind, but is expected to bring more rain than Ciara.

The forecast wind and rain may cause further damage, especially as trees and structures may have been weakened by Storm Ciara, and the ground is saturated which may cause short-term localised flooding.

Drivers should be aware of the weather conditions and check routes before starting their journey and avoid unnecessary journeys. Dorset Council’s Highways teams will be on standby to respond to any road closures.

Dorset Council is also asking people to stay away from cliffs as the risk of rock falls and land slips is increased, and please make sure garden furniture is secure

Rob Sansom, Senior Coastal Operations Officer, HM Coastguard, commented on the recent Storm Ciara:

“Images of people dodging waves and taking selfies during extreme weather are alarming and they are incredibly lucky that they weren’t swept out to sea or injured. With the arrival of Storm Dennis, especially so quickly after the last storm, the seas have been unforgiving and we cannot stress enough that piers, rocks, harbours and the water’s edge are not safe places to be when the weather is bad.

“Playing chicken with waves is extremely dangerous. It can be slippery and because there is little to hold onto, even a small wave can come out of nowhere and quickly wash you off and into the sea. Equally so, no photograph or selfie is worth risking your life for.

“We would urge people to think carefully about the risks they take and be extremely careful when near any body of water during bad weather.

“If you see anyone in trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

Keep up to date with travel alerts on Twitter or online

Check for flood alerts and warnings 

Find out the details of the weather warnings

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Categories: Dorset

Successful prosecution of Weymouth fly-tipper

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 14:14

Enforcement Officers from the Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP), working alongside Dorset Council’s legal team, have successfully prosecuted a fly-tipper from Weymouth.

Bartlomiej Jozef Grabinski, 22, pleaded guilty to operating an illegal waste site at Green Hill Barton, Coombe Valley, at Weymouth Magistrates Court where he was sentenced to a two year Conditional Discharge on 3 February.

Enforcement officers first received a tip-off relating to the crime early last year and discovered a substantial amount of waste on the land after visiting.

Mr Grabinski, who ran a company specialising in household and commercial waste disposal, ‘Weymouth Cheap Man and Van Ltd’, pleaded guilty to depositing waste at the site without a permit to either store or treat waste at the location.  He was burning waste on the site when DWP officers first approached him.

Following the first visit, Mr Grabinski  was told to attend an interview at the Trading Standards Offices in Dorchester and ordered to stop bringing waste to the site. However he failed to stop his activities and continued to bring waste onto the site.

Mr Grabinski attended an interview at the Trading Standards Offices on 6 August 2019, where he stated that he had brought waste to the site as he didn’t realise that he needed an Environmental Permit or Waste Exemption from the Environment Agency to permit him to deposit or treat waste.

Mr Grabinski was served with two Fixed Penalties for dumping waste on land not licenced to accept it (fly tipping) and for failing to provide Waste Transfer Notes as required.

Mr. Grabinski was also given a Community Protection Notice and 21 days to clear the site at Coombe Valley Road.

Despite the fixed penalties, Mr Grabinski  failed to pay the fine or clear the site by 11 September 2019.  When Enforcement Officers returned there was still a substantial amount of waste on the land and fresh evidence of waste being burned at the site.  Mr Grabinski was consequently prosecuted by Dorset Council.

Mr Grabinski was sentenced to a 2-year Conditional Discharge for his offences.  The Court took account of his mitigating circumstances, including his previous good character and his early guilty plea as well as his financial difficulties.

Mr. Grabinski was also ordered to pay £400 costs and a £21 Victim Surcharge. The Court informed him that should he commit any further offences within the next 2 years, he may be re-sentenced.

Cllr Tony Alford, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services, said:

“This is yet another successful prosecution which shows that we will not give up chasing fly-tippers and will bring them to justice”.

“Illegal dumping of waste is a blight on the community and a crime, costing the Dorset taxpayer thousands of pounds each year. This prosecution is another example of our commitment to keeping the county clean and green.

“We will not tolerate the actions of fly-tippers.  We need the public’s continued support to ensure these criminal actions are brought to justice.”

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Categories: Dorset

Want to discover opportunities for your child’s future in Dorset?

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:24

‘The Big Bang’ is a programme of UK-wide events that get students excited about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The event takes place on Wednesday 18 March. NEW for this year on is an exciting evening session from 5 – 7:30pm. This session is for parents/ carers and their children [of any age!], from any school or college. Click here to book your FREE tickets! 

So what can you expect?
  • Hands-on and interactive exhibits
  • Speak to local and national employers in different STEM areas
  • Find out about apprenticeships at timed talks
  • Gain careers advice from a qualified career guidance team
  • Learn more about the thriving STEM industry

Our Commitment

Dorset Council is a platinum sponsor of The Big Bang at Dorset Fair.  This is demonstrating our commitment to young people. We want to help inspire them to make informed decisions about their futures.

Other sponsors include…
  • Platinum – BAE Systems, Careers & Enterprise Company, Dorset Council
  • Silver Sponsors – Bournemouth University, Wessex Water, Weymouth College

The Big Bang at Dorset Fair is the largest celebration of STEM for young people in Dorset. We are delighted to be hosting the Big Bang at Dorset Fair again this year. We will have a stand showing a variety of STEM careers at the Council. This includes Highways and Planning, Adult Services and Digital Transformation teams. Our Apprenticeship team will be promoting apprenticeship pathways, too!

STEM is thriving in Dorset

Cllr Gary Suttle, Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting a new addition to the winning Big Bang at Dorset Fair formula for 2020. This special evening  event for parents, carers and their children will allow them to get excited about opportunities in the STEM industries. We also want to use this event as a platform to support businesses with their talent pipelines. We understand the importance that local businesses play in supporting the Dorset economy.”

40 local and national employers

The Big Bang at Dorset Fair 2019 was a real success. There were fun-filled shows, interactive workshops and exhibits and a wide range of careers information. We hosted 40 local and national employers. Over 1700 students attended the event. We are looking forward to welcoming an even bigger and better exhibition this year!

Challenging social mobility stereotypes

We are inviting primary schools again to the Big Bang at Dorset Fair. Recent data* tells us that children’s aspirations are shaped from a young age. 36% of children base their aspirations on people they know. The data revealed that less than 1% of children knew about a job from someone visiting their school. This has real implications for social mobility. Children from poorer backgrounds may not have successful role models from the world of work. Their aspirations could be limited as a result. The data also reveals that gender stereotyping about jobs is set from a young age.

Click here to book your tickets now! Limited to 1500 tickets.

Science experiments at The Big Bang 2019

*Drawing the Future – Survey of 20,000 primary school children

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Categories: Dorset

Have your say on the Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 14:01

Residents of Shaftesbury are invited to comment on a plan reflecting the local community’s vision for the town.

The Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan’s vision for 2031 is for the town to be ‘the best example of how an historic, hilltop market town adapts and thrives in the 21st century, working towards net-zero emissions whilst keeping its unique identity and character and respecting its beautiful countryside setting.’

The plan includes policies relating to the town centre, housing and employment, green infrastructure, design and heritage, and community and leisure.

It has been submitted to Dorset Council and is available for viewing and public comment until 4pm on Friday 20 March 2020.

Councillor David Walsh, Portfolio Holder for Planning at Dorset Council, said: “On behalf of Dorset Council, I would like to thank everyone involved in the development of the plan so far. It’s the result of hours of time and energy, and aims to meet the needs of the local community.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of Shaftesbury to view the submitted plan and consider making comments.”

The plan, supporting documents, and response form can be accessed online from www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/shaftesbury-neighbourhood-plan

A hard copy can also be accessed from Shaftesbury Library, Shaftesbury Town Hall, and also from the Council offices at South Walks House, South Walks Road, Dorchester during normal opening hours.

Comments will be sent to an appointed examiner along with the plan. Depending on the examiner’s report, a referendum will be held for the residents of Shaftesbury to decide whether the plan should be adopted.

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Categories: Dorset

Storm Ciara will be here on Sunday

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 13:24

The met office has issued a wind weather warning for Sunday 9 February. There will be very strong winds, with some rainfall from midnight Saturday night, throughout Sunday and possibly into Monday morning.

There are flood alerts for Lyme Regis, West Bay, Wareham and Chiswell. The highways team from Dorset Council and the Environment Agency  will be monitoring Portland Beach Road during the day and may need to close the road if there’s a danger from flying pebbles and spray.

The forecast for winds on the coast is from gale force seven up to severe gale force ten. The wind will reach gusts of 60-75mph. Dorset Council are asking people to stay away from cliffs and be careful on beaches at high tide when there is a possibility of large waves.

High tide is from 6.45am and 6.45pm, but the effect of the weather may cause issues up to two hours either side of these times

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment,  said:

“We want residents and visitors to stay safe and well. With winds this strong there is a possibility of risk to life along the coast.”

Inland the wind is not expected to be as strong, up to 55mph, but this may cause some travel disruption falling trees and flying debris. Make sure garden furniture is secure. Trees may also take power lines down in places.

The prolonged spell of wet weather has led to ground being saturated, so the rain on Sunday may cause short term localised flooding. So, drivers should be aware of the weather conditions and check routes before starting their journey.

The weather warning is in place until midnight on Sunday, but the windy weather may continue into Monday.

Keep up to date with travel alerts on Twitter or online

Check for flood alerts and warnings 

Find out the details of the weather warnings

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Categories: Dorset

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