Our local Councillor Simon Christopher has granted permission for his report to be shared to the public via Broadwindsor.
Here is his report:
“I am writing this report after the announcement of the National Lockdown on Thursday 5 November 2020 . I have had a long discussion with the hard working council leader Mr Flower on the impact of lockdown for residents and businesses.
I look forward to the virtual parish council meeting but thought I would share some of my thoughts now.
I have stressed to Mr Flower the importance of keeping services available to local residents, our transport network and looking forward to the future where we can for example keep our local leisure centres open. Leisure centres are used often by the young , who have suffered so much by restrictions since March 2020 and by the young at heart and they contribute so much for physical and mental well being. I have subsequently made all other 81 Dorset Councillors aware of my views.
I appreciate many of us do not use leisure centres for their exercises and I would comment that I have also spoken with Russell Goff of Dorset Council re footpaths. Russell is aware of my concern that all footpaths are open and not blocked. Russell informs me that there is also a busy programme of stile replacement and footbridge replacement Should you have any concerns re particular footpaths please contact Russell and myself. Footpaths and walking will be more important than ever this Autumn/Winter for the physical and mental health of many of us. I would however stress that there is a constant concern from farmers and landowners throughout The Marshwood Vale Ward, about dogs attacking and worrying sheep. I have noted some landowners imploring dog owners to keep their dogs on a short lead.
We will now have a lockdown that will bring new challenges to both residents and business’s and hope that the restrictions will not continue past 2nd December . The lockdown will be be different from previous where there were only a few types of businesses and amenities that could stay open . Now it appears it is a case of what has to be closed by HM Government until 2nd December. Dorset Council car parks and recycling centres will stay open. This leads me onto to the question of council car par parking charges that has had much consideration in the local press. I would wish to receive your thoughts but would point out the costs of having road surfaces in good condition etc is high . I am continuing to press for the funds to be made available to reopen Norway Lane down to Stoke Abbott.
I repeat from previous reports any comments /criticism of highways please pass them on to me!
Schools will this time stay open despite the new lockdown and I keep in regular touch with the portfolio holder Andrew Parry. Again ,please let me have any comments re the reopening of the school and also how school buses are working.
I am pleased that Broadwindsor Cricket Club is seemingly making progress on purchasing the ground. I am lobbying the Highways portfolio holder for safer pedestrian access to it.
One of the things that has been noticeable has been an increase in correspondence from those in Assured Shorthold Tenancy properties in the private sector and those in social housing questioning whether I can assist in them moving from villages in West Dorset into our local towns .
I would be pleased to receive your further thoughts on what can be done better in respect of local bus provision so I can once more lobby portfolio holder Councillor Ray Bryan .
We face huge challenges in terms of employment with the threat not just to Jobs within the aeronautical sector in South Somerset and Dorset but also the threat to jobs at Oscar Meyer across the border in Chard. For farmers the future has rarely looked more uncertain with a seeming no -deal Brexit looming , uncertainty as to what ultimately replaces the existing subsidy scheme and the future of our West Dorset abattoir being questioned .
With no farmers discussion club evenings ( greatly missed ) ,village halls typically standing empty, social isolation is often very much the order of the day Never has good broadband and mobile coverage been so important. Again please let me have your comments suggestions and concerns for relaying to portfolio holders and our MP.
I continue to receive comments from residents about planning applications in the Broadwindsor Parish area.
As the weather deteriorates ,please do let me have your comments re any local drains ,road surfaces and hedges and verges etc that are giving concern. There has been perhaps some decrease in e mails complaining about speeding and an increase in complaints about damage caused by off roading groups. I continue to correspond with officers and the portfolio holder about speeding and road safety.
I have passed on your concerns re the desirability of greater police resources in the Ward to, amongst others , our MP Council members are focusing their attention on the budget for 2021/2022 and also the new Dorset Local Plan . The cabinet of the Council will consider the property portfolio of the Council . We look to meet the future challenges of an ageing population , ever increasing demand for resources generally and a poor financial position. The council will accordingly look to make the best use of these various asset types. This will ,for instance, involve assessing commercial returns as a landlord, management of 130 or so car parks and assessing the amount of office space that will need to be retained.
As we approach the eleventh day of the eleventh month I reflect on what my ancestors in the Marshwood Vale and all their friends had to deal with and believe that their experiences may just put everything into perspective !
Councillor Simon Christopher
Dorset Councillor Marshwood Vale
Tel: 07798 833 715
Dorset Councillor for The Marshwood Vale Ward”