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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dorset Councillor Simon Christopher
Tel: 07798 833 715