Audio recordings of issue six of the magazine

Recordings of the summarised magazine content.

Welcome to the summer 2021 edition of Dorset Council News

We have continued to deal with the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to Dorset.

You can hear about our great opportunity to create a new school and centre of excellence, helping to improve lives and save money.

The Climate and Ecological Strategy is now complete and going before Full Council in July for sign-off by Dorset councillors. This has been an incredible effort by officers and councillors which has received national recognition, and much needed funding from central Government. We are also grateful to organisations and residents who made a huge input.

We are also leading on ground-breaking work to improve lives through technology, such as robots to reduce the use of chemicals in farming. 

I hope you enjoy this edition of Dorset Council News and I wish you a safe and enjoyable summer.

BBQ and campfire ban in high fire risk areas

Our Cabinet agreed to ban the use of disposable BBQs and the lighting of campfires on Dorset Council-owned land at high fire risk areas, like our country parks, woodlands and heaths. This action came about after the devastating Wareham Forest Fire which burned between May and July last year.

Many wild creatures and important habitats were lost to this fire and will take years to recover. Our woodlands are very special places and Dorset’s heathland is the only place in the UK where you’ll find all six native reptile species, and ground nesting birds and other creatures which make their homes there.

We’re working with our partners, local supermarkets and landowners to support the BBQ and campfire ban in high fire risk areas.   

Remember - dry, warm and windy weather is perfect for wildfires, so make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and don’t light a bonfire…it’s easy for things to get out of control.  Please take a picnic on your day out in Dorset.

Welcoming back visitors

Tourism is worth around £1.8billion to the Dorset economy and we are delighted to welcome visitors back.

We love Dorset and we want visitors to love it - and respect it - too. This year our ‘Promise to Love Dorset’ campaign has targeted holiday makers before they arrive, showing Dorset at its finest while asking visitors to respect our environment, take home litter, take care on our roads and on our coastline, and to be considerate of residents.

We have also stepped up fines for people who break parking laws. We have introduced new tow-away zones, have more litter bins and more frequent collections in place. Volunteer ambassadors will welcome visitors at key locations across the county signposting to the best Dorset has to offer.

North Quay uncovered

Earlier this year, proposals were drawn up for the redevelopment of the North Quay and Weymouth Bowl sites, and people gave their views. Local interest groups told us they wanted to explore underneath North Quay to uncover more of Weymouth’s rich history.

Context One, a local independent Heritage and Archaeology company, carried out an archaeological evaluation.

They found walls, flooring and evidence of residential life just inches from the surface. While 18th century structures (with later additions) were uncovered, there was evidence of the remains of medieval buildings.

Local heritage groups shared information with the community. Some provided hands-on support, including ‘Dig the Street’ who got involved in the excavation work. Local historians and residents shared historic maps, photographs and stories.  Community projects are planned so this information is recorded for future generations.

Supporting Dorset’s armed forces

We estimate the armed forces community, past and present, in the whole of Dorset is more than 100,000 (around 12.9% of Dorset’s 771,900 population).  

We are supporting these men and women and their families through the Armed Forces Covenant, with BCP Council and partners – including the NHS and the Police.

The Covenant reinforces our commitment and recognises the contribution the armed forces community - whether serving troops and their families or veterans and reservists - make to society and our economy.

Could you be a brilliant Foster Carer, like Kayleigh?

Kayleigh, who has a four-year-old daughter, left her career in banking and is now fostering a 15-year-old girl. She said: “This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve gained another family member for life.”        

Kayleigh joined our family of highly valued Foster Carers because she wanted to spend more time with her daughter and make a difference to someone else’s life.

Kayleigh said: “My foster daughter has integrated so well and says she feels part of the family.

“She and my daughter call each other sisters and have a great relationship.   We’ve been together a year and my foster daughter is much more confident. I’m proud of her and how she has managed everything. Fostering is the best choice I’ve ever made!”

New school and centre of excellence

A new school will improve the lives of Dorset children with SEND and reduce future costs.

The school for around 280 pupils with SEND, (special educational needs and or disabilities), and a leading national centre of excellence, is being created near Shaftesbury, after local people overwhelmingly backed the plans.

Currently, more than 250 Dorset children go to independent special schools. It costs around £60,000 per child per year for independent provision, compared to around £22,000 for high quality provision at one of Dorset’s own excellent special schools.

The new school is part of our wider £37.5m plan to improve the lives of Dorset children with SEND. More provision will also be created at existing special and mainstream schools.  

Free service for families

Free advice and assistance are available from our Family Information Service.

We help families find childcare and fun things to do, and access services for young people, including leisure, health and more.

Telephone 01305 221066.

First anniversary of independent living

Residents of Red Oak Court, a supported living scheme, in Wareham have taken the big leap to live independently for the very first time.

They moved into the temporary studio apartments, also called relocatable housing, last July. They have access to on-site care workers 24 hours a day, but live independently.

The accommodation has been purpose-built to meet varying health and mobility requirements. The units can be transported to another site once residents are in permanent appropriate accommodation.

Relocatable housing is part of a wider scheme, called Purbeck Gateway. The old Middle School site and surrounding area will be developed, providing local people with permanent supported living accommodation, affordable homes to rent and buy and a specialist dementia care home. The development is led by Dorset Council.

For information call 01305 225850.

Domestic abuse support always available

A campaign has launched signposting people to 24-hour support if they are experiencing domestic abuse.

Banners are to be placed on council vehicles to remind people that:

  • Controlling behaviour is domestic abuse

  • It’s not okay for your partner to threaten or hurt you

  • You should be treated with respect

The helpline is run by our partners, You First.

Call 0800 032 5204 twenty-four hours a day. Always call 999 in an emergency.

Calls are free but the number may show up on some itemised bills.

Tackling climate and ecological change

Most of the scientific evidence, built up over many years, shows the Earth is getting warmer and that human activity is the main contributor.

Dorset Council has a key leadership role to play in tackling climate change and dealing with its consequences. Our services account for 1% of the county’s carbon emissions, so we can only hope to make a real impact on the remaining 99% by working closely with communities, organisations and individuals.

Since we declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in May 2019, we have produced a strategy and action plan with a goal to reduce the council’s carbon footprint by 70% in 2030, and become fully carbon-neutral by 2040.

Climate change has been placed at the centre of our corporate plans. We have switched to a green electricity tariff for our offices, libraries, depots, children’s centres and care homes. Many schools on our electricity contracts have also selected this option.

We’ve secured £19 million to make our buildings greener. 35 sites will receive solar panels, enhanced insulation, air source heat pumps and other energy reduction systems.

We recycle 59.6% of your rubbish and recycling, with a 70% reduction in household waste sent to landfill in the last 10 years.  

We are replacing our power tools with electric alternatives, charged by solar power. This will save around 18 tonnes in carbon emissions.

With BCP Council, we have secured £79 million of Government funding to build six new sustainable travel routes in the east of the county. This includes 78km of new cycling and walking routes and bus infrastructure.

We have installed almost 50 electric vehicle charge points across 22 Dorset locations, supplied with 100% renewable energy, estimated to save 18 tonnes in carbon emissions each year.

We have a new Tree Management Policy – for every tree felled, we will plant two more.

What we’re going to do:

  • construct a large renewable energy installation of solar panels or wind turbines to meet the council’s demand
  • create bee-friendly, wildflower, hedge and woodland planting zones on council land
  • install LED lighting, thermal upgrades and low energy sources in our buildings  
  • work with partners to deliver a carbon neutral county
  • ensure access to sustainable transport is considered in planning applications.
  • lobby Government over changes to national policy to encourage and enforce carbon-neutral planning and development
  • increase range of edible fruits on council-owned open spaces through a community orchards scheme. Reduce the use of fertilizers on council land
  • support more high-speed broadband and computer technology infrastructure in Dorset making home working easier for business and reducing travel
  • expand ‘cut and collect’ verge management on highway verges to encourage more species and identify opportunities for wild habitats
  • present Dorset as an eco-friendly destination and help businesses become more sustainable

Reduce your food waste, help combat climate change and save money!

Some handy tips:

  • before you go shopping, plan your meals and make a list so you buy only what you need
  • a quarter of a standard mug of uncooked rice or two generous handfuls of uncooked pasta per person are a good rule of thumb when estimating quantities required
  • bread is best stored in its original packaging in a cupboard or bread bin, not the fridge where it goes stale more quickly. Potatoes should be kept in a breathable bag/sack (not plastic packaging) and stored in a cool, dark place
  • set your fridge to 5 degrees Celsius to keep food fresher for longer. All kinds of foods can also be frozen on their “use-by” date, including milk and bread
  • ‘best before’ refers to quality: your food will be at its best before the date given. After this date, it will still be safe to eat. ‘Use by’ refers to safety: you must not eat food past the ‘use by’ date
  • use every edible part of your fruit and vegetables, including broccoli stalks and cooked potato skins
  • leftovers could make a lunchtime snack e.g. for fillings in sandwiches or baked potatoes, or to make an evening meal
  • consider home composting, and make sure you use your weekly Food Waste kerbside collection

Improving mental health

Although many people welcome the return to pubs and shops etc it can cause feelings of anxiety or stress.

This may apply to those more vulnerable to the virus, and those with mental health concerns. Just as it took time to find ways to cope during lockdown, we should also expect it will take time to find our way back.

If you need to talk, call:

  • Samaritans on 116 123 - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • Dorset HealthCare helpline on 0800 652 0190 - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • The Calm zone on 0800 585858 (5pm until midnight daily)

Have a fresh start 

If you’re feeling tired or demotivated don’t worry!   

If you want to lose weight, become more active, give up smoking or reduce your alcohol intake, the LiveWell Dorset team have the tools to help you.   

Call 0800 840 1628 or 01305 233 105, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6.30pm

Food banks and fridges

Many people have struggled to afford or access nutritious and well-balance food during the COVID pandemic. With the help of community groups and partners, Public Health Dorset and Dorset Council built a large network of food initiatives helping residents most at need.

We have 22 food banks and have opened two social pantries: The Nest in Weymouth and The Vale Pantry in Sturminster Newton. A mobile larder is also open in Three Legged Cross and we are setting up 14 community fridges

A tech revolution

RuralDorset a council-led 5G project is deploying the world’s first agricultural robots which can identify individual plants and weeds using electricity rather than harmful chemicals.

The aim is to prove that we can make agriculture more efficient and environmentally friendly, and keep farming an important sector in Dorset for generations to come.

The project is also involved in coastal public safety trials on the Jurassic Coast, using 5G to make emergency contact easier - buoys to monitor the sea state have been deployed and digitally connected safety awareness signs are being tested at Lulworth and Kimmeridge.

Army BattleLab opens in Dorset

5G RuralDorset is also involved in the new Defence BattleLab at the Dorset Innovation Park, Winfrith in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The BattleLab will enable the MOD to work with academic institutions and businesses to develop new products and technologies and provide offices and workshop facilities for tenants and the MOD.

It will create 90 new local jobs and add £4 million to the local economy.

Smartphone gift saves John from a lonely lockdown

Profoundly Deaf Bridport resident John Phillips received a free smartphone as part of the council’s drive to help digitally connect people during lockdown.

John, whose only method of communication is sign language, had spent nine months in lockdown isolation.

With support from Millbrook Healthcare’s Sight and Hearing team in Dorchester, John was able to use the smartphone to communicate with people again.

He said: “The phone has been an absolute life saver; it’s opened up a whole new world to me and I’m so grateful to have it.”

The council teamed up with Good Things Foundation charity to give free devices to 50 people in Dorset.

Call the Good Things Foundation on 0114 349 1666 or write to

Good Things Foundation
PO Box 6063
S11 0GU

Community hubs to get full fibre

Sixty community hubs in north Dorset will receive full fibre, gigabit-capable broadband thanks to funding from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and Dorset Council.

The hubs, which include schools, village halls and care homes, will be connected by Wessex Internet from now and until March next year.

Residents in those towns and villages will then be able to tap into ultrafast broadband as well. 

Digital Champions resume face-to-face support

Dorset residents can once again get face-to-face advice on any digital queries at Dorset libraries.

You’ll find the champions at Sturminster Newton Learning Centre and the Yarn Barn Centre, Beaminster. They’re also at libraries in Dorchester, Ferndown, Gillingham, Littlemoor and Weymouth.

Sessions need to be booked in advance. Call the Digital hotline on 01305 221048, 10am to midday, Monday to Friday for advice or to book.

Consultation for the first Dorset Council Local Plan took place earlier this year. We received over 60,000 comments from around 7,000 individual people and organisations. All the comments are being considered alongside Government planning policies.

The Local Plan contains strategies to shape the area over a 17-year period by planning growth in the right places at the right time, maximising supporting infrastructure, boosting economic growth, and affording protection of local assets such as the natural and historic environment.

Without a plan, the council is open to challenge from developers who can build properties in an unplanned and haphazard way that doesn’t benefit residents and the economy.   

Seven communities had neighbourhood plans adopted for Arne, Blandford +, Chickerell, Milton Abbas, Portland, Puddletown and Shaftesbury plans. Referendums were held in May when residents voted. In all areas, residents voted to accept the plans. The neighbourhood plans will be used to inform decisions on planning applications in the respective areas

Road improvements

This year, Dorset Highways will carry out road repairs worth over £22 million. The council’s annual road maintenance programme includes patching, surface dressing, microsurfacing, in-situ recycling, road preservation and resurfacing treatments.  

Last year, more than 10% of all surfacing material laid on the council’s network was recycled and 40% of all asphalt laid was low energy. Over 25,000 tonnes of planings (the road surface that is removed) were sold and recycled into private roads and farm tracks.  

Following the temporary wider walking and sitting out areas along Custom House Quay, Dorset Highways will return to make the new layout permanent. Kerbing and paving works will formalise the new wider pavement area along the building side of the road. The road area will not be pedestrianised as it provides essential access for harbour users, as well as being a key alternative route out of town. Work is scheduled to finish by Easter 2022.

Face-to-face customer service returns

Council customers are now able to access face-to-face support in five of the county’s towns. Support on council services is available at libraries in Dorchester, Wareham, Weymouth and Wimborne and at Nordon Lodge, Blandford. Customer services staff are assisting with council enquiries, or urgent needs, that cannot be supported over the phone, or online. For certain types of enquiry, a pre-booked appointment may be necessary. All locations follow the latest COVID-19 guidelines.  

Call customer services on 01305 221000.

Your councillors

Dorset Council consists of 82 councillors. They represent the needs, priorities and aspirations of the council and the area’s people. The councillors were elected in 2019. The next election will take place in 2024. To get in touch with your councillor, call customer services on 01305 221000.

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