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- Arsene Wenger: Fifa appoints former Arsenal manager to senior role
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- 'Startled pig' hinders water pipe repairs and causes train disruption
- City watchdog slams own staff's 'shameful' toilet habits
- Arsene Wenger: Fifa appoints former Arsenal manager to senior role
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An oil spill training exercise will be held in Weymouth next week.An oil spill training exercise will take place in Weymouth
The exercise will be held on Tuesday 19 November in Weymouth Harbour, near the Ferry Steps.
The Weymouth Harbour Team arranged the event, which is called ‘Exercise Bowser’. It is part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s three-yearly requirement to test if services and other organisations can respond effectively to a fuel spill.
Keith Howorth, Weymouth Harbour Master, said: “I would like to reassure people that this is just an exercise. It is important that these training exercises are carried out to make sure we are prepared in case the worst occurs. We hope any inconvenience will be minimal.”
Use of the harbour will not be restricted. Harbour users have been asked to be careful near the exercise, which might involve booms and other equipment.
Organisations taking part in the exercise include the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Marine Management Organisation, the Emergency Services, Portland Port, the RSPB, the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. Adler & Allan Ltd Marine Response Team will be running the exercise, on behalf of the Weymouth Harbour Team, who will be taking part.
Parking permit holders in Weymouth have got two weeks left to have their say and help change conditions for the better.
Over the last five weeks, Dorset Council has been asking residents with permits in Zones A & C in the Park District to get involved and share their views on the future of their permit scheme.
Following a petition by local residents frustrated with parking conditions in the Park District, the council launched a survey to reshape the permit scheme with help from residents.
Residents are being asked to have their say on a range of permit-related questions, including if there should be free permits for ‘green’ vehicles, if they would pay more for a permit that covered parking in a car park, removing one-hour spaces and restricting business parking permits.
Residents are also be asked if they think incremental charges should be brought in, with each additional car permit costing more.
Paul Hutton, Dorset Council Parking Services Manager, said: “We’ve had a relatively good response so far, with over 150 completed surveys, but we really do want to hear from as many people as possible. The results of the survey will directly impact on the future of the residents on-street parking permit scheme in the Park District.
“We know that the main problem in the area is the significant difference in the number of spaces available and the number of people wishing to park their cars. We can’t create additional space on the road, but there are other options available to help better manage the situation.”
For anyone unable to access the online survey, members of the parking services team will be available at the Park District Community Centre, Chelmsford Street from 4pm to 8pm on Tuesday 19 November.
The right of way across the Lodmoor Nature Reserve in Weymouth has reopened this morning following completion of maintenance works.
Engineers replaced a failing culvert system to help reduce upstream flood risk. This allows the RSPB to better manage the reserve and meet their objectives set out in the Country Stewardship Agreement by Natural England.
The new infrastructure supports the RSPB’s plans for important ecological work at the reserve. More information can be found here.
Dorset Council is seeking the views of local businesses on the council’s vision and strategy for economic growth at a series of Business Breakfast events during November and December.
The events will take place across the council’s area and representatives from businesses of all sizes and all sectors are invited to inform and influence the council on future economic growth and investment opportunities.
There will be an opportunity to meet key council representatives and hear more about how the council’s plans to support businesses in the area. Business support organisations will also be there to discuss local business needs and networking and a welcoming breakfast are on the agenda too.
The event dates and venues are:
18 November – The Exchange, Sturminster Newton
27 November – Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy
2 December – Dorford Centre, Dorchester
5 December – Springfield Country Hotel, Wareham
12 December – Queen Elizabeth’s School, Wimborne
13 December – Amsafe, Bridport
David Walsh, Economic Growth and Regeneration Manager said, “Sustainable economic growth is a key priority for the council and we recognise that this can only be achieved if we are working in partnership with, and with support of businesses and relevant organisations across the area.
The Business Breakfast events offer the opportunity for the council to gain views and responses to our draft Economic Growth Strategy. All the information gathered will then be taken into consideration prior to the final strategy being published in the new year.”
The post Dorset Council calls on businesses for their views on Council’s Economic Growth Strategy appeared first on Dorset Council news.
Alison Montgomery has been appointed as Dorset Council’s Corporate Director for Care and Protection.
Alison is currently the Head of Strengthening Families at the City of Wolverhampton Council. She has more than 17 years’ experience of working with children and families, as well as 11 years’ experience of working for the police.
Alison has worked in local authorities in England and Scotland and has also spent time with Children and Family Court Support and Advisory Service (CAFCAS).
Married with a 17-year-old son, Alison currently lives in Derbyshire. She said:
“This is a really exciting opportunity for me. It’s great to be joining the new Dorset Council at a time when they’re transforming the way they work to provide the best possible support for families. I’m looking forward to moving to Dorset and making sure the needs of children and young people are at the heart of what the council does.”
Dorset Council’s Staffing Committee finalised the appointment today and Alison will join the council in spring 2020.
Executive Director for People – Children, Sarah Parker, said:
“I’m delighted that Alison will be joining the team here in Dorset. We’re working hard to improve the lives of children and families, so it’ll be great to have Alison share her knowledge and expertise with us.”
The post Dorset Council appoints new lead for children’s social care appeared first on Dorset Council news.
To claim up to 30 hours free childcare from January 2020, parents should apply now to get their eligibility code.1. How do I apply?
You, and your partner if you have one, will need your:
• National Insurance Number
• Details of one or more of the following: your UK Passport, tax credits, P60 or a recent payslip
If you have any trouble with the online application, call the Childcare Funding helpline on 0300 123 4097
If you’re not already using childcare, you can use our Family Information Directory to find a childcare provider who is signed up to offer free early education and childcare. If you already have a childcare provider, you will need to check that they offer 30 hours free childcare.
You will need to take your code and National Insurance number to your chosen provider to be checked and to reserve your place in good time.
The 30 hours free childcare offer does not cover the cost of additional services, activities or consumables, such as lunch, nappies, trips or music classes and your childcare provider may charge extra for these. However, you shouldn’t be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a 30 hours place, and should be offered alternative options, such as choosing to provide your child’s own lunch.
You don’t need to be working full time hours in order to be eligible.
You, and any partner, must each expect to earn at least the equivalent of working 16 hours a week at your national minimum wage. You must be earning under £100,000 per year to claim.
If you are a working parent, it is likely you will be eligible and you should check whether you can claim.
No, you can choose as much as you like, up to a maximum of 30 hours per week over 38 weeks. Some childcare providers may allow you to use your free hours over more weeks by using less hours each week. For instance, you could take 22 hours a week for 52 weeks. Speak to your childcare provider about how they offer 30 hours.
You can split the entitlement between multiple providers, for example between a childminder and a session at pre-school. However, you cannot use with more than two providers in one day.
If you’re struggling to find childcare, Dorset’s Family Information Service can help. If you’ve been unable to find what you’re looking for on the Family Information Directory, contact us and we’ll do all we can to help.
All 3 and 4 year-olds are eligible for 15 hours a week free childcare. Details of all funding options can be found on the Childcare Choices website. There is also a Childcare Calculator so you can find out which options work best for your family.
Yes, you need to reconfirm that you are still eligible every three months. You must do this even if your child hasn’t started their 30 hours place. If you’re claiming 30 hours, you’re likely to also be able to get Tax-Free Childcare. You can claim this for all children under 12 years old.
As part of their annual Christmas concert series, The Ridgeway Singers and Band will be performing at Weymouth Library on Wednesday 11 December.
This exciting event is the largest to date and forms part of Dorset Council’s ‘Libraries as Cultural Hubs’ programme. The performance from the Ridgeway Singers and Band will include locally collected folk songs and carols as part of their annual Christmas concert series.
Simon Bailey, Head of Customer Services, Libraries and Archives, said:
“Weymouth Library and Learning Centre is a brand new venue for the band this year. Our flexible, new layout enables these popular annual concerts to perform at a venue in the heart of Weymouth and easily accessible by public transport. I hope this marks the start of many future concerts at Weymouth Library for the Ridgeway Band.”
The Ridgeway concerts are a sell-out success every year and tickets, priced at £8 each can be purchased through Eventbrite or directly from the library.
The post Ridgeway Singers coming to Weymouth Library and Learning Centre appeared first on Dorset Council news.
A new local volunteer is offering free one to one courses of a digital flavour based at his own café.
Digital sessions are being held on Monday and Tuesday afternoons at The Tangerine Café in Beaminster, a comfortable and relaxing community space which Chris Sims owns with his poet wife Sue. Book your first session or simply turn up at the café and if you find your first session useful book more – all for free.
Around 21% of people are not confident using the internet – that’s around 150,000 people across Dorset. And 70,000 of these have never been online.
Chris said: “I can offer help to people of all abilities. There is no escaping digital so if you are nervous about joining the digital age and you have a problem my aim is to help you get the best use of digital that you can. I also gain a lot of enjoyment from sorting out more complicated issues working through solutions forensically!
“So many government and public services require you to have the skills to access essential services on the internet, such as NHS repeat prescriptions, booking appointments, Universal Credit, passports, UK Citizenship, or Government pensions. With the closure of bank branches, it is becoming essential to be able to use online banking safely and securely and I can help with that.”
“Digital can also bring joy for example by bringing friends and family together, Skype makes it easy to stay in touch with loved ones as if they were there beside you.”
Chris is one of a band of more than 75 Dorset Digital Champions who help and support people in the local community to use the internet and gain basic online skills such as:
• learning to use a device (laptop, smartphone, tablet etc)
• setting up email and contacts
• sharing photos and managing photo storage
• online safety
• using search engines such as Google or Bing
• updates and backing up
• using apps
• finding cheaper utilities
• online banking and Paypal
• connecting to wifi
With a lifetime of business and IT skills at his fingertips gained during his career as a finance director Chris has a wealth of lifetime experience he is ready to share.
Call us on 01305 221048 and we will book you in for a session with Chris or match you with a volunteer Digital Champion in your own area.
The 2020 Local Government Chronicle Awards (LGC) shortlist has been unveiled and we are delighted to announce we have been nominated in four of the categories.
The teams have managed to beat hundreds of submissions to reach the finals. The shortlisted projects include:
- Business Transformation – joint submission with BCP for the creation of two new unitary councils
- Driving efficiency through technology – Education Health and Care Plan tracker
- Environmental Services – Low Carbon Dorset
- Housing Initiative – Healthy Homes Dorset pilot project and the Warm Homes Fund Innovation strand
The Awards have grown to be the biggest celebration of excellence in local government and recognises the hard work of teams and individuals. This year, a record 700 entries were received, so well done to the nominated teams.
The next step is to complete presentations and interviews to a specific judging panel that is made up of senior and influential figures within local government.
The winners of the Awards will then be announced at a prestigious ceremony at Grosvenor House, London on 18 March.
Jackie and Mike have provided supported lodgings for young people in their home for 25 years.
Supported Lodgings is a service that provides a young person with a room of their own in a private home to help prepare them for living on their own.
They explain how they became supported lodging carers:
“We got into providing a supported lodging by accident. We put our details on an accommodation list at the local college and we had a call asking if we would take a homeless young person to live with us and it has evolved since then.
The Hardings provide a safe and supportive environment to help and support young people to gain skills for independent adult life.
“Our kids have been very accepting, and we’ve only had a couple of placements that didn’t get on. Mostly young people lodging with us integrate with the family, have friends over and everyone mucks in together.”
Every young person who has stayed with them has different experiences and needs. Families who provide lodgings are not on their own with support from social workers and other professionals to help the young person become independent.
“We work with them to learn every day skills like budgeting, cleaning and cooking.”
Chloe is 19 and is lodging with Jackie and Mike. She has spent a lot of time within the foster care. She says:
“It’s the best placement I’ve ever been in… it’s home. It’s lovely knowing that you’re not moving on. I can do my college course without worrying.
Chloe is taking a performing arts course at college and she’s working in a care home part-time to earn money to pay for driving lessons and a holiday.
If you have a spare room and think you can help a young person become independent then visit our website to find out more
A man who caused suffering to goats, ferrets and poultry by failing to properly care for them on his smallholding in North Dorset has been prosecuted and disqualified from keeping any animals for 10 years.
On Wednesday 6 November, at Weymouth Magistrates’ Court, Dennis Thorne (aged 43) of Kington Magna, Gillingham was sentenced to 14 weeks’ imprisonment – suspended for 12 months – and a Community Order to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation. He was also ordered to pay £600 towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £115.
Thorne had pleaded guilty on 14 October 2019 to six offences under animal health and welfare legislation following an investigation by Dorset Council Trading Standards. This included four offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of causing unnecessary suffering to a flock of 30-40 poultry, two goats and two ferrets, by failing to provide them with appropriate care and one offence of failing to inspect his animals at regular intervals.
He also pleaded guilty to an offence of failing to tag his two goats, which is legally required to prevent animal disease spread.
Back in March this year, officers from the Trading Standards team visited land Mr. Thorne rented at Okeford Fitzpaine, near Sturminster Newton. They discovered the carcasses of around 20 ducks, chicken and geese littering the animal enclosure. The few surviving poultry were emaciated and in filthy conditions. Two emaciated goats were also found in a small pen with no clean water or dry lying area. In a nearby barn were cages containing the carcasses of two ferrets. The cages were filthy and all of the drinking containers were empty. Despite having received previous advice from the team, the goats were not tagged.
All the animals remaining in Mr Thorne’s possession were seized by Trading Standards under the Animal Health Act and then cared for by the RSPCA. Thorne later agreed to give up his ownership of them.
The court was advised that Thorne had received a formal caution from the RSPCA in 2009 for causing unnecessary suffering to a horse.
Ivan Hancock, Service Manager for Trading Standards at Dorset Council, said:
“Our Trading Standards team work with livestock keepers to improve the welfare of their animals, but when advice and basic animal husbandry is ignored, formal action is considered.
“All livestock keepers have a clear responsibility to ensure conditions they keep animals in, and the care they are given, is adequate. Where there is evidence of unnecessary suffering we will intervene and consider formal enforcement action.”
For health and welfare advice on keeping farmed animals or to report an animal welfare problem Dorset residents can call the Trading Standards animal health line on 01305 224475, or email email@example.com.
The post Smallholder sentenced and banned from keeping animals appeared first on Dorset Council news.
Work to maintain Weymouth’s historic harbour is continuing.Harbour works are continuing
Storm delays and difficult ground conditions means the contractor will work on Saturdays, starting on 9 November, to keep the project on track.
Nearby residents on Customs Quay have already been informed about the Saturday working, which will take place between 8am and 2pm.
Peter Christie, Dorset Council Project Engineer, said: “The project team are working hard to keep things on track. This work is vital to maintain our harbour walls. Saturday working is within the contract, but only used when absolutely necessary. In this case, the contractor is keen to not prolong the piling period and to complete the project before Christmas.
“I’d like to thank residents and businesses for bearing with us and apologise for any inconvenience.”
The work has been planned and paid for by Dorset Council and is being carried out by a contractor, Knights Brown.
The work involves replacing 76 metres of quay wall. Engineers are driving a new line of sheet steel piles, which are like an interlocking steel barrier, into the ground in front of the existing harbour wall.
The piles are now being driven into the ground. The hammering in, which often causes the most noise, will only be done for short periods of the day, but the duration is dependent on the ground conditions. The gap between the new and old piles will then be filled with concrete. The new structure will be capped with concrete and the quayside restored with equipment for mooring vessels.
Around £1.9 million has been allocated to maintain this section and another section of harbour wall near Nelson’s Wharf, which is also in need of repair.
Please email enquiries about the works to: WeymouthHarbourWalls@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
New guides have been launched for homeowners, tenants and landlords.
The first guide helps you tackle damp, condensation and mould issues which can appear, or get worse, when it gets colder. Our other new guide explains how to resolve on-going safety or repair issues with rented homes.
As the temperature drops, you may notice problems with damp, condensation or mould in your home. If so, get our new guide on how to identify and control these common problems. It’s a practical step-by-step guide to recognising what’s causing the problem and what to do to prevent and control damp, condensation or mould.
The guide explains the importance of keeping your home well maintained, properly heated, ventilated and insulated to help prevent problems.Dealing with landlords
If you’re renting your home, the guide tells you what to do if you feel it is in disrepair or your heating or ventilation isn’t adequate. If, after you’ve taken the steps outlined in the leaflet and your landlord still hasn’t acted, the Council can provide further advice and help.
Get information and advice on controlling damp, condensation and mould here.
If you’re a tenant struggling to get your landlord to make your home safe or do necessary repairs, our new Housing Standards guide will give you advice on how to get the problem sorted.
Keeping a rented home up to a good standard is a joint effort between tenant and landlord. Landlords are required to make sure that the homes they rent are in good repair, safe and in good condition. The new Housing Standards guide explains how to report a problem and what you need to do. If you have an on-going problem with your rented home that your landlord is not progressing, our guide gives you useful information and advice on how to help resolve the issue.
If you’ve taken the steps outlined in the leaflet and your landlord still hasn’t acted, the Council can get involved to help you sort the problem out.
Download the Housing Standards guide here.
Officers sought approval from Cabinet on Tuesday (5 November) to consult the voluntary and community sector (VCS) on a range of funding options for 2020-21, and to review the level of funding to the VCS for future years.
At the meeting and following public statements from a variety of voluntary organisations, members of the public and Dorset Councillors, Cabinet agreed to carry out consultation as set out in the paper, but for an extended period of time. After some debate, Cabinet members also agreed to continue with current funding agreements.
Dorset Council currently spends £1.8m funding the VCS in Dorset and recognises the valuable contribution this sector makes to local communities, particularly in terms of helping people early on when they are facing problems, before they reach crisis point.
Cllr Tony Alford, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Regulatory Services said:
“It’s so important that we listen to our partners and colleagues in the community and voluntary sector. This is especially so in times of change. Dorset Council is seeking to establish a basis of funding support that is not only fair and equitable, but also transparent. We will therefore encourage the sector to give us their views and we will take them into consideration. The funding arrangements currently in place will carry on until the new approach is adopted.”
Prior to the creation of Dorset Council on 1 April 2019, the previous district, borough and county councils provided various levels of funding for the sector with some areas benefiting more than others.
The proposed review of VCS funding seeks to address this inequality across the Dorset Council area and deliver some modest savings (between £0 and £160k) for the council’s 2020-21 budget.
The post Council agrees to consult on funding to voluntary and community sector organisations appeared first on Dorset Council news.
Anyone wanting to improve their digital skills to stay in touch with friends and family can book for free, one to one help ahead of Christmas.
Dorset Council has a network of 75 volunteers who run free, one-to-one computer help sessions in libraries and other venues across the county. They can help with everything from switching on a computer and using the internet safely, to managing email and learning to use video calls.
Rita, a learner in her 80s, who lives in Verwood, has taken all she has learnt from her Digital Champion one step further and is now teaching her great-grandchildren how to create photo albums.
Rita said: “My digital skills were very “hit or miss” when I started. I had a new tablet but I didn’t understand which buttons to press and on a scale of ten I scored about one!
I heard about help from the Digital Champion at Verwood Library and I thought I could only improve!
“My friends and family were very knowledgeable and I felt left behind. My great granddaughter would take lots of photos but I couldn’t join in. But now I am taking lovely photos of family and also of my holiday cruises and storing them in different albums and sharing them – and they can’t do that! They think I am quite clever – I am one step ahead!”
Rita is also using her Digital Champion’s expertise to help her prepare for the years ahead, in case she finds she is less able to get out. She has learnt how to do online shopping, how to use the doctor’s website to order medication and can now renew and order books from the library.
Rita added: “My next challenge is to keep in touch more regularly with my friend in Australia. I haven’t seen her for many years and I wish I could do Skype – we ring each other once a year.” Rita’s friend already uses Skype to keep in touch with family in the UK, so Rita is planning to be skyping her soon!
Cllr. Gary Suttle, Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Skills , Dorset Council said: “We all recognise the link between having strong and meaningful social connections and living a healthy and successful life. Skype is one of the digital tools we are encouraging people to use more. It is more personal because you can see someone close up to have a regular catch up. You may be unlikely to travel to Australia but you can keep in contact with friends and family wherever you are which is good for our overall health.”
Rita added:” It is so much easier to learn when you have one to one support and it is free. The Digital Champions help you at your own pace and they are very patient.”
If you would like help to keep in contact digitally with friends and family this Christmas, take and share photos, book a doctor’s appointment, renew your library books or just switch on the computer then please call 01305 221048 or visit your local library and we will match you with a volunteer in your area.
Further enquiries: Gill Patterson, Communications Officer (Interim) Superfast Dorset & Digital Inclusion
Get help with computers with Superfast Dorset https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/business-consumers-licences/superfast-dorset/getting-online.aspx
LearnMyWay A couple of examples are – using email – https://www.learnmyway.com/courses/using-email/ or how to use GP services online – https://www.learnmyway.com/courses/gp-services-online-a-how-to-guide/
For anyone who uses a computer and wants to practice email or look up GP services themselves, could use “LearnMyWay” which is provided by a national digital inclusion charity.
The post Picture This! Rita puts her new digital skills at the great-grandkids fingertips appeared first on Dorset Council news.
The met office has issued a wind weather warning for Saturday 2 November. There will be very strong winds, with some rainfall from 4am until early afternoon.
There are flood warnings for Lyme Regis, West Bay and Preston Beach. The highways team from Dorset Council will be monitoring Preston during the morning and may need to close the road if there’s a danger from flying pebbles and spray. Although flooding at Chesil is unlikely both the Environment Agency and the council will watch to see if this changes.
The forecast for winds on the coast is from gale force eight up to severe gale force nine or ten. The wind will reach gusts of 60-75mph. Dorset Council are asking people to stay away from exposed cliffs.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said:
“We want residents and visitors to stay safe and well. With winds this strong there is a possibility of risk to life along the coast.”
Inland the wind is not expected to be as strong, up to 65mph, but this may cause some travel disruption with trees still in leaf there is a possibility of blocked roads and rail lines. Tress may also take down power lines in places.
The weather warning is in place until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday will be less wet and blustery.
Any events planned for the weekend may have to be postponed due to the weather. So, check with the organisers before you travel.
Many Dorset families are missing out on childcare funding which could save them money. Don’t let these myths stop you from saving money on your childcare costs!My child isn’t 3 yet, so I won’t be able to get help
There are options available to help with childcare costs if you have children who are older or younger than 3 years old. The right option for your family will depend on your circumstances.
You can claim Tax-Free Childcare for children aged 0 to 11 (or 16 if disabled) if you work full or part time. For every £8 you pay in to your online Childcare Account, the government will add £2. You can get up to £2,000 per year towards your childcare costs (£4,000) for disabled children).
If you’re unemployed or on a low income you could be able to get up 70% of your childcare costs for 0 to 15 year olds (or 16 if disabled) with Tax Credits.
If you’re working and claiming Universal Credit you could get up to 85% of your childcare costs for 0 to 15 year olds.
If you’re unemployed, on a low income or receiving some form of support, you could get up to 15 hours free childcare for your 2 year old. This also includes children who have been adopted or fostered and children who are disabled or have an EHC plan.
You can find out which scheme, or combination of schemes, works best for your family using the online childcare calculator.I only work part time hours, so I won’t be able to claim
As well as the universal entitlement of 15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, if you’re working part or full time you could get an extra 15 hours per week. If you’re able to get up to 30 hours free childcare, you are likely to also be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare for 0 to 11 year olds (or 16 if disabled). Eligibility for both schemes is based on your income, rather than the number of hours you work. You must expect to earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours per week at minimum wage and no more than £100,000 per year.
If you’re not able to claim 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare, you could be able to get help with childcare costs with Universal Credits or Tax Credits.
Some families will be eligible for more than one funding scheme. Depending on which schemes you are eligible for, you may be able to claim more than one at the same time. Here’s a guide to which schemes can be claimed together:
You may have seen articles in the local press recently about the financial position of Dorset Council. These have originated from reports that go to the Cabinet and various committees at the council, which monitor, scrutinise and decide on all income and spending of taxpayers’ money.Wednesday 30 October
Yesterday, the Dorset Echo ran a front-page story about the projected overspend of Dorset Council for this financial year. Cllr Tony Ferrari, portfolio holder for finance, commercial and assets at Dorset Council, sent a letter to the Echo, which explained the council’s financial position. Dorset Echo has not yet published this letter.
Here’s what he wrote:Cllr Tony Ferrari
“The recent headline Council Shake up was Meant to Save Money (Echo 30 Oct) gives the impression of a council not delivering on its priorities, a description far from the realities of what is taking place. Dorset Council is forecasting a £14.7m overspend by the end of the financial year. This is coming entirely from two areas of service, Adult and Children’s social care. Part of this is being driven by rising need in the community. It will come as no surprise to anyone that the number of people with dementia is rising sharply or that the numbers of children, in care and education, with complex needs are increasing. We have something over 400 more children in Dorset with individual support via a personal care plan than we had last year. We budgeted for increases, the need has grown faster than even we anticipated.
“Another part of our overspend is investment in the future to reduce the problems for the future. Recent commitments include a care village in Bridport to support Adults to allow for early discharge from hospital and ongoing support in their home. This is part of what we call our Building Better Lives programme and it is about Dorset increasing our capability to support those in our community with greatest need.
“Supporting individuals and preventing future need all costs money which has to come from somewhere.
“One of the arguments for forming Dorset Council was to save money and that is exactly what has happened. Can I look at some of the areas for savings. The first stage of the merger of the councils is complete, cutting the numbers of Directors and Councillors. We had 4 Chief Execs and we have taken that down to one. We had over 200 councillors, down to 82. What has been done to date saves us £5.2m per year. What we have taken longer to deliver is the merger of front-line staff who are delivering the services rather than the Senior Managers. We have taken time and effort to make sure that the staff are fully engaged. We must make sure Dorset has the right people in the right places to deliver what our residents need. This takes time. We will deliver another round of savings when this is completed, about the end of the year.
“We will make savings from our purchasing. Some of that is easy, when we had four contracts for the same thing we just have to transfer it all to the best contract, but this is a tiny proportion of what we buy. Almost all of our expenditure is on long term contracts, contracts to run care homes, residential places for children in care with extensive needs, vehicle leases etc. We will make savings on those too but we can only make the savings as the contracts end. It is almost never financially efficient to break a contract early to get a better deal. That means the savings will arrive over time as our contracts expire.
“We will also reduce our spend on buildings, but just because the Chief Exec’s office is empty it doesn’t mean the building can go, we will still be delivering service to our residents from the same building. Making sure we have the right people in the right buildings takes time. Even an empty building only delivers part of the savings. You may not need to heat it or light it anymore, but you don’t make all of the savings until something else is done with it. If we own the building it will take time to sell, if we lease it, we may need to find a new tenant. The savings here will be big and are actively underway. We have a disposal strategy that is targeted to deliver £31.5m by 2021.
“So, the council is rapidly delivering the savings that were planned as a result of the merger. But we have care needs today. One option would be to skimp on the service for our most needy residents, we won’t do that. We could delay on our investment plans to reduce future need and cost but this strikes us as a false economy which will cost us more in the long run.
“But we are over budget so how do we deal with this situation? The answer lies in the sound financial management of the councils that were merged to form Dorset Council. All of them were more prudent in their last year than had been forecast. As a result Dorset has reserves at the very top end of our target range. This is what reserves are for, spending to deal with short term issues. These reserves allow us to provide for our communities even when the numbers of individuals needing care rises rapidly and at the same time invest to slow this pressure in future.
“What is happening in Dorset Council is the same solid financial management that we saw from all of the previous councils. The savings from the formation of Dorset Council will comfortably exceed the current level of this year’s overspend and at the same time we are providing the care we need for rising resident demand.
“This is not a council in difficulties, this is a council doing exactly what Dorset’s residents would want from us, managing the tax payer’s money well in a difficult environment.”Thursday 31 October
Another story appeared in the Dorset Echo today, Thursday 31 October, Half of council’s £10 million extra spend will be on consultants and specialist officers. There are a number of inaccuracies contained within this article.
The article gives the impression that Dorset Council has allocated £5m on consultants to deliver transformation. This is not true.
- This article has confused and conflated two separate Cabinet reports.
- It is correct that there is a £5m investment fund for transformation. This is reported in the Cabinet paper on transformation (agenda item 13).
- There is a completely separate Cabinet report (agenda item 11) seeking approval to procure temporary agency staff and consultants should the council require these services over the next four years. Under procurement regulations, we need approval from Cabinet, because spend could potentially exceed £5m over four years. This report is not about transformation costs. The council aims to minimise use of temporary agency staff and consultants but recognises there are occasions when specialist skills or expertise are required. For instance, temporary agency staff in adults and children’s social work roles, which are challenging to recruit to due to a national skills shortage. The council’s new People strategy commits to the learning and development of its employees and any use of external resource will be used to up-skill and transfer knowledge and expertise to permanent employees.
- The article goes on to say, “the extra funding is needed before the authority can realise the savings it promised at the start of local government reform (LGR)”. In fact, the council is already achieving the following cost reductions as a result of LGR:
- £400,000 per year from the reduction in the number of councillors from 204 to 82
- £5.2m in 2019/20 and £10m per year in a full council year from the reduction in staffing costs
- we’ve also reduced the ongoing costs of insurance, audit fees and other activities where the council now only pays for one organisation rather than six
It’s important that facts are reported and presented accurately and that Dorset Council is transparent about its current and future plans to meet the needs of Dorset residents.
The post Recent coverage of Dorset Council in the local press appeared first on Dorset Council news.
Last week, a Weymouth resident was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty of multiple offences, including four environmental crimes.
Back in August this year, Anthony Maurice Knowles, (41, from Weymouth) appeared at Poole Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to two instances of fly-tipping and a further two matters under Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act of failing to contain waste.
These were in relation to several fly-tipping reports of building materials being illegally dumped in and around the Dorset Close and Wiltshire Avenue areas of Westham, Weymouth. After a thorough investigation, Enforcement Officers at the Dorset Waste Partnership worked with Dorset Council’s Legal team to bring the case to court.
The case against Knowles was adjourned until this month for sentencing to include other CPS matters, two of which related to offences against the DWP’s Enforcement Officers.
Knowles appeared before Bournemouth Crown Court last week and was sentenced for the four environmental crimes (two for fly-tipping and two for failure to contain waste) that he had previously pleaded guilty to, as well as numerous other offences.
He was sentenced to 2 months imprisonment on each matter (to run concurrently) as a part of a wider 14-month sentence, suspended for 2 years. This is the Dorset Waste Partnership’s and Dorset Council’s first case when someone has been sentenced to imprisonment for fly-tipping.
Jeremy Gallagher, Enforcement Officer at the Dorset Waste Partnership, said: –
“I would personally like to thank Dorset Council’s Legal Team for their help on this case.
It’s important for the Dorset Waste Partnership’s Enforcement Team to demonstrate how seriously we take fly-tipping and, where there is enough evidence, we will attempt to trace and prosecute anyone found to be fly-tipping on public land.
If you see a fly-tip, make a note of where it is, take a picture if you can, and note down any other details. You can report it by using our online form or calling us. Never touch the waste or confront fly-tippers.”
There are just ten days left for community projects to apply for grants up to the value of £6,000 in this round of Dorset Council’s Community Impact Fund.
On Monday 9 September, Dorset Council opened its Community Impact Fund to back community projects that help the lives of local people.
There is a total of £75,000 available to help community organisations and charities, with a turnover of less than £500,000, deliver services that improve the lives and well-being of people in the Dorset Council area.
Local community groups have until Midnight Sunday 10 November 2019 to apply. To make sure the fund reaches all parts of Dorset’s communities, applications for smaller amounts (up to £1,000), via the Micro grants pot are also welcome.
Projects supported will target those whose needs are greatest and will support the council’s ambition of reducing demand for its services by connecting people to the right help, support and early intervention to improve resident’s lives.
Cllr Spencer Flower, Dorset Council Leader, said:
“We want to support community projects that can demonstrate how they support the council’s top priorities for local people.
“The important element is that the projects must be resident-driven with evidence of the benefits for people and the contribution they will make to helping improve the lives of people in Dorset.”
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