Cllr. Simon Christopher has submitted the following report for this evening’s Meeting of Broadwindsor’s Group Parish Council:
Dear Helen and Councillors,
While there has been a certain amount of political disturbance and intrigue in and around the Palace of Westminster political work continues at Dorset Council under our leader Councillor Spencer Flower.
Councillor Flower has in recent times visited the West of the County including Broadwindsor and Thorncombe . I have also welcomed the leader to Charmouth and Lyme Regis. I know Spencer appreciates my direct comments as do our MP and police and Crime Commissioner who I have also met since the last BGPC meeting at Drimpton .
I believe it is helpful to focus on the Dorset Council Mission Statement under Councillor Flower.and commentary on work to assist Ukrainian Refugees.
The network continues to extend a warm welcome for Ukrainian refugees coming to Dorset. Help & Kindness (a local community interest company) is signposting people to local groups supporting refugees and sharing information.
The council’s role to support Ukrainian refugees ranges from accommodation checks, education provision for children, arranging for payments and job-seeking opportunities. We do not want to get in the way of the great work being done in communities, but contribute through our service delivery, helping to co-ordinate and facilitate activity.
Mission Statement – A two-year plan setting out our priorities for 2022 to 2024
Our Mission Statement isn’t a list of the hundreds of services that the council provides, nor does it detail all the huge progress we have made since the council was created in 2019. Achievement of our initial objectives set out in the LGR prospectus is something to be particularly proud of, because of the huge challenges during the pandemic. This is now our bold and ambitious look forward. It identifies the key priorities we want to focus on during the next two years. It is our commitment to our residents, and our partners.
As advocates for Dorset residents, we must continue to be bold and ambitious to ensure that we achieve the best outcomes for residents. We will continue to lobby Minsters and Dorset Members of Parliament on a regular basis to ensure we can achieve a fairer deal for Dorset from Government.
Our vision for 2022 – 2024
Dorset Local Plan – Take a different approach to Local Plan preparation by being far more strategic, including a two-year extension for having an approved plan. To continue to work with Homes England and the New Communities Team’ to deliver a sustainable garden town within the Dorset area.
Housing for local people– Develop progressive relationships with developing registered providers (such as housing associations) operating in Dorset, working together deliver affordable housing to rent for local people. Build on our investment in council-owned temporary accommodation to substantially reduce the dependence on bed and breakfast for those who are homeless and need our support in the short term.
Adult Social Care – Develop and deliver reform to cope with increased demand at a stable or mitigated cost level.
Children’s Services – Continue radical reforms with the roll out of the £37.5m SEND invest to save programme and commit to the 2020-2023 Children’s Plan and the Strategic Alliance for Children & Young People.
Assets and Property – Drive the disposal and repurposing programme and develop a master plan with services to maximise the potential of the Dorset Centre of Excellence in Shaftesbury.
Working with the Integrated Care System – Getting a better deal for Dorset Council as equal partners by establishing place as the key platform, bringing early intervention to social care. This will ensure the best outcomes for those who need our support and offer the best opportunity for this to come at an affordable cost to the council and the NHS.
Climate and Ecological Strategy – Deliver on our agreed policy and commitments and establish bidding capability to attract Government funding to enable the council to progressively meet its net zero target by 2040.
Community Safety – Working closely with Dorset Police to ensure we achieve the best outcomes when dealing with local crime and anti-social behaviour. Work with the Police and Crime Commissioner to make Dorset the safest county in the country.
County Deal – Working with BCP Council, submit a bid to Government for a County Deal for the whole of the County of Dorset, in collaboration with the Dorset LEP, to enhance and drive economic development and the skills agenda and attract additional Government funding into Dorset.
Digital Innovation – Continue to pioneer new technologies and create the foundations of a longer-term economic development. Work to safeguard and encourage job retention and growth, through direct action and through positive engagement to the private sector.
Turning the mission statement into Council Policy [next steps]
- Draft refreshed version of Dorset Plan to Place and Resources Overview Committee (7 June) and to People and Health Overview Committee (28 June)
- Refreshed Dorset Plan to Cabinet for amendment / approval (26 July)
- Post Cabinet: Scrutiny to review performance or specific priorities
While these timescales are tight, I firmly believe that they are achievable and we can then start to implement our plans for the people of Dorset, truly making it a place to live, work and visit.
“I hope you found this insight helpful and an interesting approach to ensuring we understand and achieve our key priorities during the next two years.” – Cllr Spencer Flower, Leader of Council
I have met with the Secretary of State at DEFRA Rt hon George Eustace MP.
I will comment further on this at the BGPC meeting.
It is clearly helpful with the Secretary Estate and ministers in the team remain in post despite the disturbances mentioned at the start of the report.
Cabinet members at Dorset Council are working closely with their counterparts at Cornwall’s Council.
Both Cornwall and Dorset have substantial County Farms Estates and we have much to learn from their pilot slurry schemes .
I have set out thoughts on how farmers need extra support in my meeting with him on 8 July 2022.
I am working with Dorset Council and officials in respect of mental health issues.
I actively engage with farming and business organisations and many professionals.
I have met with our Member of Parliament to stress the importance of local businesses and connectivity generally. There is a shared concern re local health care provision.
Further there is every prospect of a change in wider tax and benefit adjustments in the near future.
I have met with our police and Crime commissioner to discuss his plans for stronger rural policing.
During 2022 we have already seen rapid increase in inflation. Dorset Council is trying to assist residents in financial difficulty. Please see note at the end of this short report.
We are clearly expecting a very busy summer on our roads.
I have met with Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick to discuss road safety and crime concerns. Dorset Police now have additional numbers dedicated to rural policing.
I have chased the lawyer Philip Crowther and ranger Russell Goff for meetings to discuss issues arising re local footpaths.
I have e mailed portfolio holder Councillor Ray Bryan for update re-funding for the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
I will provide update re the withdrawal of area based agricultural subsidies and the move towards environmental based subsidies which will impact farmers whether Dorset Council Farm tenants or otherwise at the parish council meeting. I will also report on other developments for farmers whether financial or environmental, outlined by Secretary of State George Eustace at Devon County Show last Thursday .
Now for details of financial support as a consequence of inflation:
Vulnerable people in the Dorset Council area can apply for new support to help with rising costs. Applications are being taken from pensioners and working age people in receipt of qualifying benefits or in fuel poverty.
Please note, the fund for working age people has now closed. It is still open to pensionable age residents. If you need financial support or advice, please go to the Cost of Living Help webpages to see how else you may be able to get help.
The council has been awarded the funding from the Government’s Household Support Fund to provide short-term financial assistance. The support will be via supermarket vouchers. Vouchers will be issued to residents in the Dorset Council area with savings of less than £10,000 who meet the following criteria:
- Pensioner in receipt of Pension Credit;
- A pensioner or working age resident not in receipt of a means tested benefit who is in fuel poverty**; or
- Working age and in receipt of a means tested benefit* (this is now closed for working age, please see Cost of Living Help for support and advice).
*Means tested benefits are Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Rebate, Income-related ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), Income Support, Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.
**Fuel poverty is defined as spending 10% of household income on energy costs
Vouchers will also be provided during the school holidays to families in receipt of free school meals.
Councillor Andrew Parry, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help said “The Household Support Fund is there to help those who need it most. There is a simple online application form, and if you have any difficulties completing it, or do not use the internet, our library-based volunteer Digital Champions can assist you. Your local Citizens Advice office will also be able to help you. If you are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, there is a range of support available for you, so please act now.”
Residents will need their most recent bank statements, proof of benefits (if applicable), energy bill (if applicable) and identification.
The website also explains how to nominate a family member or friend if assistance is needed, or if the applicant does not have an email address.
Alternatively, applicants can get help to complete their form from a volunteer Dorset Digital Champion at their local library. To book an appointment, telephone 01305 221048 (Monday to Friday, 10am to midday). See Digital Champion venue opening times.
Local Citizens Advice offices are also offering assistance. Click HERE to see opening times and locations or call customer services at Dorset Council on 01305 221027 for opening times.
Food vouchers during the holidays and free school meals
In line with previous school holidays, families of children who receive free school meals during term time will be provided with food vouchers over the summer holiday. These are funded by the Household Support Fund, and Dorset schools will share information about the vouchers direct with the families who receive free school meals.
If you do not claim free school meals for your child but think you might qualify, please apply by completing the online form. You can also apply for free activities for your child during the summer holidays.
Click HERE to check whether you can get Free School Meals.
Click HERE to find out what other support, including council tax support, housing benefit and universal credit, is available
Click HERE to see where you can access food at local foodbanks, community fridges and social supermarkets
Clearly there have been some farmers who delayed the purchasing of fertiliser until after 24 February and who sold part of their cereal crop forward before that date and have had cause to regret this.
The current position is changeable with crude oil prices recently in retreat .
This may not provide reassurance to households in the short term with inflation in the UK broadly at 9 per cent 8.6 per cent in America and 8 .7 per cent in Germany.
Indeed inflation is at 12 per cent in Greece and 20 per cent in Estonia , hence the challenge of moving together in the Eurozone.
Indeed it maybe that that the Euro May hit parity with the dollar shortly reflecting concerns .
Charle Moore writer for the Daily Telegraph and indeed a former editor of the Daily Telegraph has spoken to audiences in West Dorset several times over the last couple of decades. In his contribution to the above paper over the weekend on inflation he wrote ( and I give you a shortened version )
” As the Country emerged blinking from the Covid convalescent Ward it faced enormous, partly war driven price rises in energy and food ,growing evidence of underlying inflation well beyond the temporary costs of short supply ”
I look forward to meeting you again.
Councillor Simon Christopher
Dorset Councillor Marshwood Vale
Mob: 07798 833715