Cllr. Simon Christopher’s Report – September 22

The photograph shows Cllr. Simon Christopher with his wife, Una at the Reading of the Proclamation by the High Sheriff of the Dorset Proclamation on Sunday, 11th September outside Dorchester County Hall.

Cllr. Simon Christopher has submitted the following report for this evening’s Meeting of Broadwindsor’s Group Parish Council at Blackdown village hall:

Dear Helen and Councillors

Una and I shared the deep sadness felt by everyone in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the whole world, at the death of Her Majesty The Queen. 

The Queen was a steadfast champion of the British countryside and rural way of life.   It is also with sincere gratitude that we remember her tireless service to our nation and its rural community.  In an ever-changing world, the Queen was a constant. Her devotion and sense of duty  was an inspiration.

On Friday 22 September 2022 the new Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his financial statement in the House of Commons. I will be pleased to discuss the statement at length but  for now will concentrate on discussion of the new proposed Investment Zones and provide you with  a message from Dorset Council leader Spencer Flower :

‘“Dorset Council has been in conversation with Government officials where we expressed our interest to be a part of the Investment Zone programme which the Chancellor has announced today as part of the mini-Budget.  At this stage we have little detail of the policy other than this is intended to drive investment and economic growth.  This is an opportunity for Dorset and sits well with our economic objectives set out in the Council Plan and Economic Development Strategy.  For this reason, I have informed Government that we would be interested to participate in the programme.  We await further detail and if we are confirmed as an Investment Zone location we expect to be working closely with officials.  I will keep you posted on this matter through my regular updates to you.

(The report continues with cut and pasted information as provided.)

Cost of living help 

 

The link below will connect you to a site which will sign-post residents to webpages which we hope will help people impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/w/cost-of-living-help . 

Dorset Council secures funding to improve electric vehicle infrastructure in rural areas

 

Dorset has been announced as one of just nine areas in England to receive funding from a new government scheme which aims to improve electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The funding comes from the new Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme, through which we have managed to secure £2.7million to increase the number of EV charge points in the council area

 

The project will serve a broad range of users, primarily targeting residents without access to off-street parking, while also meeting demand for en-route charging to support our tourism trade. 

 

The project aims to place chargepoints in up to 150 locations around the county for the convenience of residents and to encourage the take up of electric vehicles. This will involve the council working with local community landowners to install charging infrastructure in accessible locations which might include car parks, community halls, pubs, café’s and shops, as well as possible on-street locations where suitable. 

This pilot will also include a small number rapid or ultra-rapid (50 kW to 150 kW DC) chargers on or near main roads to support enroute charging. Some chargepoints will be located at popular tourist locations where both residents and visitors can access them.

 

To overcome user concerns over payment methods, all chargepoints will have alternative access with a minimum payment method (a non-proprietary and non-phone payment method, such as contactless) installed.

Need more landlords

 

There are several initiatives which aim to work with landlords to provide much-needed housing to families across the Dorset Council area. The housing service is appealing to willing landlords to partner the council and benefit from the assistance the council can give. Please look at the Dorset website for further information.

Foster with Dorset Council

 

A note from a foster carer “If anyone is thinking about fostering, I’d say don’t hesitate to investigate it, don’t be put off making that initial phone call. Just be open with things that you’re worried about as they probably won’t stop you being a foster carer. Just pick up the phone and make that enquiry. “Every circumstance is different from one person to another, but the process is so thorough that if you have the slightest inkling that this might be what you want to do then give it a go.”

Our fostering service puts the children who need loving, local foster homes at the heart of everything we do. The key focus is on keeping local children close to their schools, friends and birth families. Our foster carers transform the lives of children and young people by opening their hearts and homes to those who need it the most. At present, demand for foster carers in Dorset is high – especially for teenagers and sibling groups.

Find out more about fostering with Dorset Council and register your interest today. Keep up to date with the latest fostering news and subscribe to our monthly enewsletter. If you’d like to find out more in-person, the fostering team hold regular fostering drop-in events across Dorset.

The Dorset Parent Carer Council annual information event is back! Dorset SEND
Free Information Event – 4 October
 
This FREE event is for parents and carers of children aged pre-school to 14, who are disabled or have additional needs. The event brings together a wide variety of services and information all in one place. Teams and organisations from across education, health, and social care and the community sector will be attending to provide a fantastic opportunity for families to see what work is currently underway to improve services in the future.

Tuesday 4th October; 10am till 2pm; Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester, DT2 8PX 

Free parking, free entry, free refreshments. No booking required. 

Dorset County Farms

 

Dorset Council owns 41 farms (and has owned them for quite some time). These are currently managed in accordance with the County Farm Estate Management Plan of which the principal objectives are to: 

Provide a provide an initial gateway into agriculture for persons to farm on their own account whilst ensuring a financial return to us. Provide us with a direct interest in the land management of the county, promoting the integration of good environmental and farming practices as well as best practice and innovation in estate management and agriculture. Sustain rural communities whilst providing opportunities for greater public access and understanding of agriculture and the countryside

The estate is currently run on a two-tier system, with smaller ‘starter’ units providing a point of entry into the agricultural industry and larger ‘promotion’ units to allow for career progression.  Farms on the estate are predominantly livestock based, with both dairy and stock farms.

The review of the Management Plan was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but is now in progress.  In addition to the current objectives, we are considering how the estate can create additional economic, social and environmental value to help meet the priorities identified in the Council Plan. In particular, conversations are ongoing internally in relation to the role the Estate can plan in helping to support the Council’s climate and ecological emergency which was declared in 2019. The estate is currently run on a two tiersystem, with smaller ‘starter’ units providing a point of entry into the agricultural industry and larger ‘promotion’ units to allow for career progression.  Farms on the estate are predominantly livestock based, with both dairy and stock farms.

Dorset Council’s Road maintenance method reducecarbon emissions

 

As part of Dorset Council’s ‘green’ approach to highways maintenance, road retexturing is contributing to a reduction in emissions, the council has refreshed 67,000sqm of road surface this year – raising skid resistance to improve the safety of highway. Where appropriate, the sustainable solution used eliminates the need to resurface a road and instead uses one of two techniques to blast the road surface to regain its skid resistance to the same – or better – level of resistance it had when the material was first laid. Depending on the individual site, the road will either have small steel shots fired at the surface to improve the texture or will have water blasted at the surface to remove excess binder.

This road retexturing has helped reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by over 335,000kg, and saved around 6,700 tonnes of virgin aggregates from being used,It also has financial savings of over £1.2m compared to using conventional resurfacing methods to provide a new textured  surface.

 Dorset Council Commissionong for a Better Life for Older People with Support Needs. In Dorset 2022-2027

You will continue to read about the ageing Dorset Population.

It is recognised that Dorset has a higher over 65 population than anywhere else in the Country and as such it is especially important that Dorset Council provides the opportunity for a great quality of life for older people.

Dorset Council documentation that I have seen, indicates that typically older people refers to those who are no longer of working age,so traditionally 65 plus.

However with increased life expectancy an increasing number of people find themselves either having to work or wanting to work beyond what was traditionally retirement age.

In England there are 295 older people per 1000 working age population 

In Dorset there are 527 older people per 1000 working age population 

Currently there are 31,000 people  over 80 in Dorset

Council Leader Spencer Flower has written earlier this month to the new Prime Minister seeking funding from HMGovernment for Social Care to reflect cost pressures facing Dorset Council as a result of the figures quoted above and inflationary pressures.

Clearly there is a lot going on in agricultural policy terms:

Farmers are concerned about the move from the Basic Payment Scheme  with the Agricultural Transition . In 2022 direct payments will be at least 20 per cent lower than in 2020 . Where 50 % of the 2022 BPS was paid in the Summer the payment being received this December will be dramatically reduced from the usual figure and will impact on cash flow considerations for all farmers, whether County Farm tenants or not .The range of Environment Land Schemes designed to replace BPS are only slowly appearing with the Old Countryside Stewardship scheme filling the gap.

What might be called productivity/efficiency  or generally incentivising schemes are being directed at farmers. DEFRA is keen  to improve the competitiveness and productivity of Farming in England, a key part of this is capital grants for equipment and infrastructure :

40 per cent capital grants under the Farming and Investment Fund ( FIF)

Farming Equipment Technology Fund fixed payment for 120 specified items on line application minimum grant ,maximum grant £25,000

Farming Technoligy Fund larger grants £35,000 to £500,000 covering 3 areas water manage to , productivity and added value .

Finally many are pondering the Slurry Investment Scheme envisaged from this Autumn .  This is understood to be 50 per cent grant minimum £25,000maximum £250,000 for a minimum of 6 months storage .

My final comment is that I understand that a new round of farm advice under the Farm Resiliance scheme will be available from October .

The UK Government has announced a set of measures designed to boost the rural economy in England

This has had a great deal of coverage in the farming National and indeed local press

DEFRA’s Delivering for Rural England report, which includes £110m of funding to boost economic activity in the countryside,

The CLA’s campaign has become increasingly influential over the UK Government’s rural policy-making through 2022, particularly following the launch of a major report into the rural economy earlier this year.

DEFRA’s policy changes were published in the final days of Boris Johnson’s premiership, but are expected to be enacted by the new Prime Minister regardless.

The changes include:

  • Ringfencing of rural productivity funding through the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) worth £110m. Funding will be available for a wide range of activities, including converting buildings for business use, supporting diversification projects and delivering digital infrastructure
  • Streamlining the process to convert disused agricultural buildings into housing in designated areas
  • A commitment to ensure the needs of the rural economy are reflected in the levelling up agenda

As one of my friends and indeed a fellow Chartered Accountant has said:

“UK Government is showing some ambition for the countryside. Improving productivity in the rural economy could add up to £43bn in GVA – so this fund is money well spent”

“We now need to see the true detail. Rural business owners are working hard to succeed, determined to create prosperity across our communities. But we need this report to deliver genuine planning reform, full connectivity and a cross-departmental policy framework from government that reflects the sheer potential of the rural economy.”

“In the midst of an economic crisis, we need a robust and ambitious plan to create economic growth in the countryside. The UK Government has today taken its first steps towards delivering it.”

DEFRA’s report has heavily been influenced by a report published earlier this year by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Rural Powerhouse, , entitled ‘Levelling Up the rural economy’. The report followed a year-long inquiry that took evidence from a number organisations representing the rural economy. and including those where I am an active member.

During the Summer I received the fillowing communication from Vicky Abbott  Health Programme Advisor | Locality Link for 

West Dorset at Public Health Dorset

“Colleagues in the communications team at PHD are about to embark on a promoting positive mental health for rural locations project in the West Dorset (and North Dorset) locality; Broadwindsor (including Marshwood and other surrounding villages) being the focus area for West Dorset.  They are particularly looking at working with the community settings in Broadwindsor to reach out to the village communities by way of a support network, including identifying when an individual or family may need support.”

This will move forward next month, starting with a free mental health awareness training session, on Monday 3 October 12.45-5pm, at The Comrades Hall, Broadwindsor.  I look forward to working with the Parish Council on this.

Best regards

Simon
Councillor Simon Christopher
Dorset Councillor Marshwood Vale

Hawthorne Cottage
Ryall Road
Whitchurch Canonicorum
Bridport, Dorset
DT6 6RH

Mob: 07798 833715
Email: cllrsimon.christopher@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

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Councillor Simon Christopher’s Report – July 2021

Cllr. Simon Christopher submitted the following report at this evening’s Informal Meeting of the Group Parish Council:

Dear Helen and Councillors,

It is good to see so much physical activity in keeping our local village halls up together and meeting the aspirations of residents both in terms of their actual use, but also their environmental impact. There was much discussion of what was termed the big society a decade or so ago and evidence of collaboration is very much in my mind in terms of not just community shops, but also possible community run pubs and existing community sports clubs in the Dorset Council Marshwood Vale Ward.
Dorset Council has continued to have virtual meetings. The most recent meeting of the Cabinet was on 22 June 2021 as social distancing requirements were not lifted on 21 June 2021.

Members were advised that where a Cabinet decision was required the appropriate Portfolio holder would be the responsible individual to make the decision whilst considering the views expressed by the wider Cabinet membership 

 You will be aware that the 2 main budgets in Dorset Council are in respect of care for Adults and Care of Children. There are also huge challenges around mental health generally and in respect of learning difficulties .

One report that was considered was the Dorset Care, Support Housing and Community Safety Framework.  Against a backdrop of an ageing population The Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health Laura Miller, advised that the Council Sought to provide high quality personalised care and support services meeting the needs of service users whilst ensuring that they are delivered and financed in a sustainable way. The current Dorset Care Framework for Older People expires on 30 November 2022 and the Dorset Care Framework for Learning Disabilities needs to be refreshed to include mental health.

Procurement is governed by the Public Contract Regulations 2015 which allows Public Sector Bodies such as Dorset Council in terms of health and social care to adopt /innovate procurement models to best meet the needs of service users.

The framework will be in place for up to 10 years and will enable providers to join at any time (provided clearly that specific criteria is met) instead of fixed opening periods.

The proposed new Framework tool is the key to delivering flexible contracting with all sectors of the provider market including ( and I believe this is absolutely crucial) micro enterprises.

It is fair to say that Dorset Council continues to be under pressure both in terms of dealing with an increase in the number of planning applications and has been attempting to deal with an increase in the level of land charges searches. Across Dorset we are seeing changes in rural property ownership and re-evaluation of business models within the rural community, (which I will write more about later), but often these changes involve the need for planning applications.

With respect to Bus Back Better which was first publicised by H M Government in March 2021, I would like to reiterate that the Dorset Council bus service improvement plan will be published in Autumn 2021.

Councillor Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for Highways Tavel and Environment ,has been working on the Dorset Council Bus Service Improvement Plan.

He is quoted as saying “In response to the Government’s new National Bus Strategy which aims to make bus services more attractive, cheaper, easier to use, Faster, more reliable and greener.
The plan, is the so called Bus Service Improvement (ie: BSIP  Plan)

As a recap a plan will be a collaboration with local bus operators, community groups, and with passengers themselves.

The Council has reviewed the operations that Dorset has through the National Bus Strategy.

Their preferred approach is to develop an Enhanced Partnership for the council area.

An Enhanced Partnership is an agreement between the council and local bus operators to work together to improve local bus services. It requires an agreed vision of improvements and an action plan that will form the Bus Service Improvement Plan”

The plan will involve 5 key aspects:

  • Network and services
  • Fares
  • Ticketing
  • Passenger facilities
  • Bus priority measures

Councillor Bryan has further said that
“By working in close collaboration with the operators and local groups we will develop and deliver an ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan for Dorset that puts the passenger first, raises further the perception of bus travel, generates mode shift away from private cars, and sees decarbonisation of the local transport fleet.

As a point of record the official notice is as follows
“By executive notice dated 29 June 2021 Dorset Council gave approval to proceed with the Development of and Enhancednotice of the intention to prepare an Enhanced Partnership Plan and accompanying Enhanced Partnership Scheme,as required and set out in section 138F of the Transport Act 2000.

As part of the process to develop the BSIP, the Council will be talking with community groups ,business groups passengers and the public to collect a wide range of thoughts and ideas which will help to shape the future vision and priorities for our bus network. The BSIP will be published in the Autumn”

I make no apology for stressing the importance of the Bus Service Improvement Plan that will be published in Autumn 2021 but the importance of public transport generally to include improvements to rail services and stations.

Several parish councillors are aware that I have continued to lobby Councillor Ray Bryan (mentioned above)  and the lead member for Highway Surfaces Councillor, Cherry Brooks to address the need for extensive parts of our local road network to be re surfaced. There are assurances that further resurfacing , and I refer in particular to the B3165  will take place this autumn.

We are of course in the middle of the most intensive part of the farming year.

While there are many who like seeing so much agricultural machinery working in the fields the fact that the machinery has to travel on our roads causes concern to some residents who write to me in connection with damaged roads, drains and verges. Of course, some damage may for instance be caused by say buses and lorries .

I would naturally be interested to hear the further thoughts of parish councillors and residents. I say this as I have within the Marshwood Vale Ward experience receipt of communication citing oversized agricultural machinery. In my experience agricultural machinery does not appear to be any larger than that you would see across the West Country.

I am writing this as we anticipate further easing of Covid restrictions and at a time when Covid cases are rising again across Dorset.
As of 9 July 2021, hospitalisations have been increasing with there being 14 people in hospital with Covid 19 in Dorset . The vaccine programme is however assessed as having a significant impact on the number of people being seriously unwell. That is the number of people requiring hospital treatment is at a much lower level compared to when Dorset was experiencing similar case rates in previous waves.

There are several walk-in vaccine clinics taking place across Dorset as residents are encouraged to grab a jab as it is termed prior to likely further easing of Covid 19 restrictions under step 4 of HM Government roadmap.

In summary the most recent data, to 9 July 2021 is as follows:

7 day cases per 100,000.
Dorset 96.4 compared to 69.2 per previous week.
The equivalent figure for Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole was 236.8 per 100.000 compared to 147.7per previous week.

I thought I would now turn to the question of the management of Dorset Council Owned Tree Policy . It is my understanding that Dorset Council is responsible for approximately 250,000 trees . The responsible Portfolio holder stated that town and parish councils were continually consulted and also confirmed that he was working closely with the County Farms in respect of tree replacement.

This now leads to the portfolio holder being quoted as stating that it was important to plant the right tree in the right place. This may seem an obvious comment but never more relevant.

I write this as it is a HM Government target to plant 30,000 hectares a year by 2025 this is under the DEFRA  England Trees Action Plan  2021-2024.  As part of the plan ,it was announced that the Forestry Commission would launch a new England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO),
There is much discussion of carbon sequestration biodiversity and timber production. And which tree species and location to assist in a fight to prevent soil erosion.

We are now seeing tickets being sold for some local agricultural shows eg: Honition at the start of August and Gillingham and Shaftesbury in the 3rd week of August . Both shows are unusually going to operate as 2 day shows due to ongoing concerns and capacity numbers appear somewhat uncertain Dorset County show in Dorchester and Melplash are both Cancelled.

These events are hugely important as are the functioning of livestock dispersal sales such as the one taking place at Frome market tomorrow (12 July ) in respect of a herd of organic dairy cows as farming is seen to operate in a manner closer to normality and a time when there is so much stress in the farming community . This stress includes the high incidence of TB in cattle and increasing testing requirements and cuts in Basic Payment ie support payments. Income is being lost in the the reduction in the Basic Payment Scheme which is being phased out Payment rates for the new sustainable farming incentive have now been set out by Defra Secretary George Eustace . This will have an impact naturally on farmers in the Marshwood Vale ward and indeed for farmers on the Dorset Council Farms Estate . Many of you will be aware that HM Government are encouraging farmers to move towards what is termed sustainable farming but also encouraging farmers to collaborate be more efficient and diversify.

In fact, with enhanced capital allowances for businesses in assisting with their tax it can be argued that HMG is being very generous in encouraging all rural business to be more efficient but increased efficiency and indeed diversification is not without broadband challenges……

Finally, within the Marshwood Vale Ward I have received notice of difficulties in respect of private drainage. You will be aware that not all of the extensive Marshwood Vale Ward is on mains drainage. The specific difficulties involve soakaways and I would welcome your thoughts by e mail as to  the extent to which private drainage is a problem for individual householders and their neighbours and the wider community.

Best regards

Simon
Councillor Simon Christopher
Dorset Councillor Marshwood Vale
077988 33715

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Councillor Simon Christopher’s Report – May 2021

Cllr. Simon Christopher submitted the following report at this evening’s AGM of the Parish Council:

Dear Helen and Councillors,

Further to my previous report I comment as follows re school buses:
My understanding is that Service SB5 route operated by First Wessex running via Misterton Drimpton and Broadwindsor has been affected for a number of weeks by a road closure at Misterton associated with bridge strengthening.
I further understand that the work is for Somerset County Council and per the latest report I have, the work  is due to end on 21 May 2021.

I am informed by the Head of Travel at Dorset Council that First Group have been impacted by a number of other roadwork schemes happening before the tourist season proper commences and indeed the head of travel also points out that the service was further  affected by Somerset County Council roadworks south of Crewkerne for a couple of weeks during March.
The Head of Travel at Dorset Council has informed me that First Wessex did communicate with the headmaster at the school about the roadworks before hand and attempted to make appropriate adjustments to pick ups.
The head of Travel at Dorset Council has also passed on the additional comment from First Wessex:

‘’All drivers we use are familiar with the routes ,in fact we do not allow any driver to drive any routes they are unfamiliar with and they can only drive a route once fully trained and signed off’.’

Finally , the Head of Travel reported that First have agreed to look at the diversion route again to see if there are any alternative solutions to avoid the delay and promised to keep the portfolio holders, Councillor Ray Bryan and Councillor Andrew Parry and myself updated

I now turn to the support from HM Government for the bus sector. This involves the Covid 19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG) Restart 

It is interesting to read in HM Governments communication Bus Back Better that there is a declared belief that and I quote ‘ Local collaboration is a key tenet of emergency funding”.  As a condition of receiving CBSSG, the Department of Transport can ask operators to demonstrate on request that consultations on service levels have taken place and that reasonable requests from Local Transport Authorities for service changes have been considered in good faith.
The Department for Transport can deny or recover CBSSG payments from operators who have not engaged adequately with Local Transport Authorities.
By the end of June 2021 Dorset Council, in order to have access to CBSSG is required to commit to entering into  Enhanced Partnerships.
By the end of October 2021 Dorset Council is required to have developed and agreed a Bus Services Improvement Fund.
Clearly there is a lot for Councillor Ray Bryan , the portfolio holder for Highways Travel and Environment to think about.

I continue to engage with interested parties about damage to the verge etc at Common Water Lane.

Turning to farming, which is at the core of economic activity  in so much of the Marshwood Vale Ward, farming has always been a dangerous industry. At this time of year many of us would have been thinking about attending the May agricultural shows including Devon County Show and Royal Bath and West Shows . These shows are both cancelled and as a consequence charities and other organisations and firms lose the opportunity to discuss with people in a true face to face way how farming can be made safer.
Close to one person a week dies in an accident on farms in this country despite countless campaigns to raise awareness of dangers whether to farmers and farm workers or walkers.
Farmers and farming organisations together with the Health & Safety Executive and charities have publicised the risks yet still people die on farms through accidents . No councillor should give up working towards farm safety. With respect to walkers there are risks associated with large livestock and large farm machinery.

Of course farming has changed with some farmers keeping their cattle indoors more than others . It is always helpful when farmers can have the chance to explain what they are doing to arrive at common sense solutions so that farming is safer.
One of the most famous farming commentators recently described the situation in a national magazine for those who work in or enter a farm environment,  your friends and family and I quote ‘may just have a concern about you because you are not young and nimble enough any more to climb a ladder or jump a gate if the bull turns nasty ‘ This may be seen by some as helpful advice!

After recent disturbing local events re attacks on sheep, I was interested and indeed saddened to read that more than two thirds of UK sheep farmers have experienced an increase in attacks on their flocks by dogs in the past  year according to a new survey.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) said the findings of its survey added further weight to evidence that an increase in dog ownership during the coronavirus lockdown may be driving the rise in attacks.
The NSA chief executive Phil Stocker noted that there was still much work  to do to educate the dog owning public about the need to keep their pets under control- and preferably on a lead  in the countryside ,especially near livestock.

Last Friday the National Sheep Association launched #LeadOn –  a two week campaign that aims to encourage dog owners to be responsible and act as an example to others by keeping their pets on leads in the presence of livestock.
Sheep farmers across the UK will be posting their experience on Facebook and Twitter about the devastating effect a dog attack on their flocks can have for all parties.

Finally in the Dorset Council area elections are taking place on 6 May 2021 for the Police and Crime Commissioner. Elsewhere in Dorset there will also be some town and parish council by elections.  I am advised that measures to ensure polling stations are safe include:

1 social distancing inside and outside venues.

2 limits on the number of people inside polling stations.

3 maximum ventilation of polling stations.

4 hand sanitiser.

5 regular cleaning.

Other points:

Voters will be required to follow the signage and any instructions at their polling station.
Voters are encouraged to bring their own pens/pencils.
Face Coverings are also required to be worn inside the polling station (Unless exempt).
Election staff will also be wearing face masks.

Please note that this not an exhaustive list of measures and advice from the Comms team  further info may be available in the first instance from the following – Dorset Council 01305 858233 or email: comms@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk.

Best regards,

Simon.
Dorset Councillor Simon Christopher
Marshwood Vale
Tel: 07798 833 715

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Councillor Simon Christopher’s Report – April 2021

Cllr. Simon Christopher delivered the following report at this evening’s Parish Council meeting:

Councillors

During the last month I have had further discussions with Dorset Council Highways officers re speed limits signage and speeding generally. This is an ongoing matter and will hopefully involve actual face to face discussions with officers in some Marshwood Vale ward villages This is dependent on officer time and when Covid Restrictions allow I have continued to press for improvements in broadband and mobile in discussions with officers portfolio holders and our MP I have also  corresponded with local farmers and other business owners.

Dorset Council is considering appropriate action as result of the expected greater influx of tourists this summer. As this is a major task for the Council I will talk about this further at the Parish council meeting.  With the increased use of footpaths there is concern about adherence to the Countryside Code and most importantly avoid circumstances where dogs chase and attack livestock . Livestock worrying may lead to dogs being shot.

We are seeing some fundamental change in farming with a re assessment on occasions of future farming directions and structures. The full impact of brexit and the gradual movement from basic payments will take some time to assess. Clearly some farmers are aware of the Defra Agricultural Transition plan published at the end of last year . We will see the support Defra provides for farmers change over the next 7 years with cuts to the basic payment ie area based scheme and the introduction of schemes to at least partially replace it. These are envisaged to include productivity schemes  and the sustainable farming incentive in the short term  and eventually Environmental Land Management scheme implementation from 2024.

It was been helpful to see HM Government this week  commit itself to the importance of rural public transport especially buses. With the influx of visitors expected, subject to the relaxation of Covid restrictions of course, I am even more conscious of the importance of public transport.

The period for initial consultation in respect of the draft Dorset Council Local Plan has ended and I understand that there is satisfaction with the amount of interest shown and the number of responses received. If we do not have an up to date plan then there is the risk of developments being passed  merely under the sustainable development criteria of the National Planning Policy Framework Dorset Council has set a budget to spend £312.4 million in the year ended 31 March 2022 ie outside of the dedicated schools grant.

It is envisaged that of this  £312.4  million the majority will be spent on 2 statutory services £124.9 million will be spent on Adult social care and £52.8 million on Chidren’s social care.The budget will be funded by increasing council tax by just under 5% that is just under 2% increase in general Council Tax and just under 3 per cent to help fund adult social care – known as the adult social care precept. This equates to the rate for a band D Property increasing by £84.60 for the year or £1.62 per week. To fund the £312.4 million  the majority of the funding is intended to be received in the form of   £263.9 million from Council tax and  £44.3 from retained business rates.

A few other points as Dorset Council looks to deliver services often in rural areas.

The percentage of income coming from business rates is relatively low compared to other local authorities while the percentage of the population aged over 65 is higher than any other unitary authority.

You may recall that in March 2020 the government published The Electrical Safety standards in the Private Rented Sector  (England) Regulations 2020 which came into force on 1 June2020.The regulations apply to existing tenancies from. 1 April 2021. Covid regulations have made life particularly difficult for landlords in compliance matters and of course in terms of regulation.

I remind you of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May.

Councillor Simon Christopher
Dorset Councillor Marshwood Vale

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Government’s Dairy Response Fund Ends Midnight, Sept 11th

The Dairy Response Fund 2020 provides support to eligible dairy farmers in England who produce cows’ milk. They now must receive applications by midnight on Friday 11 September 2020.

Since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector.
Defra has set up a fund to help those dairy farmers most in need in England overcome the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  The new funding will help support dairy farmers who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have had to close. The fund is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

Please read the Dairy Response Fund Handbook (the pdf file will download to your device) to see if you are eligible to apply. Only use the application form if you meet the eligibility requirements detailed in the handbook. Download the pdf Application form  HERE and apply for a one-off payment.

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