Here is our local Councillor Simon Christopher’s interim report submitted to the Parish Council’s meeting this evening.
“I am actually writing exactly seven days before the meeting and as a politician famously said, a week is a long time in politics.
I thought I would set out some thoughts at the last meeting of the year. A difficult year in which we have seen so many people rally around to help vulnerable people.
The council has risen to the task of helping the elderly, the infirm and has acted positively to help with the provision of meals to vulnerable children over holiday times. There has of course been financial consequences and the council has had to utilise reserves.
Councillors Jill Haynes and Councillor Tony Ferrari as portfolio holders have written to all Town and Parish Council clerks re the Dorset Council area. The communication is in respect of the Dorset Council Asset review Process, which was presented to Cabinet on 3rd November 2020.
Extracts include ‘There are a number of (property) holdings which we need to consider in order to rationalize the estate and reduce cash’
‘The desire is to
- Create economic growth by creating new homes and jobs
- Delivering a more integrated customer focused service, through joint provision with partner organisations
- Generate efficiencies through capital receipts and running costs’.
Please contact me if you have not seen the aforementioned email or wish to discuss the matter.
Councillors are currently discussing the budget setting process, primarily:
- Children’s Directorate
- Place Directorate- including property’s, highways and Dorset Waste
- Adults Directorate
- Corporate Directorate
There is to be a concentrated effort to achieve savings in contract arrangement without a reduction in service.
The Parish Council will be aware of the considerable correspondence involving Highways and the police about continuing damage to the verges etc at Common water Lane. This is an ongoing matter and many of us are determined that the above authorities are made aware of the continuing concern of residents.
I will be pleased to receive your thoughts on possible changes to Dorset Council car parking charges.
You may have noticed that Dorset Council car parks will be free on Saturday’s in December 2020. (In Sherborne I understand this will be on Mondays)
The mailbag of a Dorset Councillor in a rural ward appears to show continued concern about speeding motorists and I pass on these concerns to the relevant highways officers and other agencies.
Thank you to those Parish Councillors who contact me re concerns about footpaths and I have contacted the officer on your behalf. I continue to request a pavement be installed from Broadwindsor Village to the cricket ground.
I am in touch with officers to make sure drains in Seaborough are properly cleared, as a result of residents concerns.
Rachel Baker, senior communications officer Digital and Change Dorset Council has been publicising the Gigabit Voucher Scheme. An email has come out to John and myself, which has been further circulated and you have comments on this.
On 30th November 2020 the Government has unveiled its Path to Sustainable Farming.
The reason I draw your attention to this is :
- The mere fact that even in the heart of your village you are but yards away from a field managed by members of the farming community.
- This will impact on the County Farms Estate of some 46 farms and all our local farmers.
The Government states that it plans to deliver a better fairer farming system in England with the objective of changing the way the Government supports farmers. The roadmap has outlined changes that will come in over a seven year period.
‘The changes will be designed to ensure that by 2028 farmers in England can sustainably produce healthy food profitably without subsidy, whilst taking steps to improve the environment, improve animal health and welfare and reduce carbon emissions.
Next year marks the start of the transition where we will begin to move away from the Basic Payment Scheme(BPS) towards new policies that will be co-designed and tested together with farmers, land managers and experts, to ensure that the new systems work for them.
The ‘Path to Sustainable Farming’ document sets out more detail on the changes we are going to make, and what they will mean to farmers.
The key changes include:
- Introducing the Environmental Land Management scheme to incentivise sustainable practices, create habitats for nature recovery and establish new woodland to help tackle climate change.
- Investing in improving animal health and welfare as part of our sustainable farming approach. This will initially focus on controlling or eradicating endemic diseases amongst cattle, pigs and sheep.
- Direct payments will be reduced fairly, starting from the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year, with the money released being used to fund new grants and schemes to boost farmer’s productivity and reward environmental improvements.
- Launching a Farming Investment Fund, which will support innovation and productivity. This will open for applications next year and will be used to offer grants for equipment, technology and infrastructure for the future.
- Simplifying and improving existing schemes and their application processes further from January 2021 to reduce the burden on farmers, and we will take a modern approach to regulation, cutting unnecessary red tape for farmers and working together with industry to design a more targeted regulatory system.
In a nutshell, the bulk of future payments will be through the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), but it will not be fully available to farmers for four years. Meanwhile, cuts to the old scheme will begin in January 2021. By the time the ELM Scheme is fully available, farming businesses face losing 50% of the financial support they previously received. The reliance on BPS for farming businesses of all sizes is it seems, such that farmers may struggle.
The Dorset Local Plan
Many of you will have noticed that there will be consultations in respect of The Dorset Local Plan. The timetable will approximate to:
1st December 2020 – Details published on the Dorset Council website for discussion at Dorset Council Cabinet
8th December 2020 – Discussion at Dorset Council Cabinet
Mid January 2021 – Consultation period opens for a period expected to be for 8 weeks.
In the event the Cabinet agenda was published yesterday evening and I will be pleased to discuss initial thoughts with you at the meeting this evening.
To quote the documentation:
‘ Having an up to date local place is critical in order to shape the future of the Dorset Council area, providing for development to meet the areas needs and manage decisions of planning applications. Public consultation is a vital part of the process and this consultation will enable a wide range of views to be taken into account in moving the plans forward. The plan includes potential development sites in order to meet the needs for housing, employment and other uses over the period to 2038’
It is proposed that the public consultation takes place for eight weeks starting in mid January 2021. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that face to face consultations are unlikely to be possible but in addition to the document and supporting evidence being available online a range of consultation methods are proposed including online events, social media and copies available to loan in libraries.
After consultation a final draft plan will be published with an opportunity for further feedback and comments before being submitted for examination. At that stage responses will be considered and assessed by the independent inspector who examines the plan.
The intention is to adopt the plan by April 2023 .
Dorset Council has published the Dorset Highways Winter Service Policy and Operational Plan 2020/21. This document has been made available to all Parish Council clerks.
I wish you all a safe very enjoyable Christmas and New Year.
Councillor Simon Christopher
Dorset Councillor for The Marshwood Vale Ward