Audio recordings of issue five of the magazine

Recordings of the summarised magazine content will be available to listen to soon.

Transcript of the recordings of issue five of the magazine

  1. Welcome
  2. Couples say I do
  3. Reach out for support
  4. Census 2021
  5. Planning
  6. Switch to electric, plus housing support news
  7. Spring
  8. COVID-19 testing
  9. Right bins
  10. Transforming travel
  11. Digital devices and hotline
  12. Foster carers
  13. Our budget explained

1. Welcome to the spring 2021 edition of Dorset Council News

This is an audio recording of the of the residents’ magazine for Dorset Council.   

My name is Diana and I will be reading with Guy. John is our sound engineer.

Welcome to the fifth edition of our residents’ magazine for Dorset Council. 

I must start by first expressing a huge thank you to all of you who have offered your time and energy supporting the vulnerable during these unprecedented times. I’d also like to thank the Dorset Council employees and councillors who have all had to adapt to new ways of working to ensure frontline services are maintained.

The council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in May 2019. We have recently concluded an extensive period of public consultation on the Climate Emergency Strategy and Action Plan and hope to be able to publish the findings in early spring.

We have an ambitious target for Dorset Council to be carbon neutral by 2040. This includes major works to reduce the council’s carbon footprint across its buildings. We have been successful in securing an offer of over £18 million in government funding to enable these works. Look out for further news in the coming months.

The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine is cause for optimism as we move towards fewer restrictions. In the meantime, stay safe and well and continue to follow the guidelines as we have done so well in Dorset.

Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council

2. Hundreds of couples say 'I do' despite COVID-19

Our registrars made sure couples were still able to tie the knot in Dorset during 2020, even though COVID-19 disrupted some plans.

478 ceremonies took place last year - with 136 couples saying 'I do' in the run-up to Christmas alone.

Under covid restrictions ceremonies were restricted to first 30 and then 15 people (including the couple, witnesses and guests) and social distancing measures were in place.  

Having your say makes a difference!

We held nearly 30 public consultations over the last year.

Over 8,000 of you had your say about dogs in public spaces. As a result, the council implemented a dog related Public Spaces Protection Order on some beaches and open spaces, to keep them safe to use and free from dog fouling.   

Big consultations included one on the council’s Climate Strategy. Over 2,000 of you had your say and your comments are being analysed.

Your comments help inform councillors so they can make better decisions. Please keep taking part!

 EU Settlement Scheme – reminder to apply

 EU citizens who live in Dorset need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to stay living in the UK.

The application deadline is 30 June 2021. If you are an EU citizen and have not secured pre-settled or settled status by this date will lose access to the benefits and services you have currently.

If you need help with your application, contact Dorset Citizens Advice on  03444 111 444

 3. Reach out for support

If you are struggling, our partners at Dorset Citizens Advice are ready to listen. Whether it is bills, redundancy, or paying the mortgage, talk to an adviser now in confidence.

Call Freephone 0800 144 8848.

If you need advice about Domestic Abuse, speak to You First on 0800 032 5204. In an emergency, always dial 999.

If you need relationship advice and support, contact Relate on 01302 380900. The Samaritans can also help you on Freephone 116 123

4. Census 2021 is in full swing

The 2021 census is under way and you should have received a letter with your unique access code in early March to complete it online. Some households without internet access received a paper questionnaire. Responses are already coming in but there is still time to complete your answers if you haven’t already done so.

A census response is required by law. In the coming weeks, a team will follow up with households who have not submitted their form. They will not need to enter homes and all contact will be socially distanced. They will be equipped with PPE in line with government guidance.  

If you are having difficulties completing your census form, you can book an appointment for support from the Dorset Libraries team. Call 01305 221028 (local call charges apply)

Could we help your organisation reduce its carbon footprint?

We have secured an extra £5 million so we can continue to support local organisations reduce their carbon emissions.

Through Low Carbon Dorset, free advice and grant funding is available for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.

Since launching in April 2019, the programme has awarded 108 grants worth over £2.6 million. Free advice has also been provided to over 100 Dorset businesses, community groups and publicly funded organisations. This support has helped save the equivalent of taking over 2,000 cars off UK roads.

5. Planning Dorset’s future 

A consultation on the Dorset Council Local Plan took part earlier this year.  

We are working through all the feedback received, using it to adjust the plan accordingly.  

The draft Local Plan will be considered by Dorset councillors later this year. It will go through several more stages before it can be adopted by the council, including inspection by an independent examiner.        

Once adopted, the plan will guide decisions on planning applications in Dorset until 2038. 

What is a local plan? 

A local plan outlines the strategy for meeting the needs of the area such as housing, employment, and community services including schools, retail, leisure and community facilities.  

It directs development to the most suitable locations near to existing facilities. It includes policies to promote high quality development that respects and enhances the character of each area. It also protects the natural environment while acting on climate change. 

The future of local plans 

The Government’s recent Planning White Paper ‘Planning for the future’ is considering changes to the planning system. This may change the way local plans are developed. 

Planning in towns and villages 

Progress continues on a large number of neighbourhood plans across the Dorset Council area.  Neighbourhood plans work alongside local plans. 

6. Making the switch to electric easier

Forty-four electric vehicle chargepoints have been installed in 18 Dorset Council-owned car parks around the county.

The fast (22kW) chargepoints, using 100% renewable energy mean drivers can charge their electric vehicles whilst visiting the county’s towns. 

This can be a quick ‘top up’ (a charge of 15 minutes would enable you to make a journey of 5 to 10 miles) or a full charge, taking between two and four hours, depending on the vehicle.   

​​​Fully charging a vehicle costs between £9 and £29 depending on the vehicle and battery capacity.  Normal car parking charges apply.  

This is an exciting step towards the council’s commitment to become carbon-neutral.   

Funding for housing support 

We have secured £1.6m from the Government’s Next Steps to Accommodation programme to help tackle homelessness in the county. The council has also agreed a further £4.78m over the next two years to purchase and refurbish properties to support homeless and rough sleeper households.

This will ultimately reduce reliance on emergency accommodation, such as bed and breakfast.

As the repercussions of COVID-19 continue, more people are sadly finding themselves in financial difficulty and at risk of losing their home, or have become homeless.

Shortage of homes 

There is a lack of available properties in Dorset for us to provide settled homes. This additional funding will help provide affordable homes for single people who, by and large, make up the majority of homeless households in the county.

There has been an unprecedented demand on our housing service throughout the pandemic. Our teams have worked hard to offer support to rough sleepers and homeless households, housing rough sleepers in temporary accommodation during lockdowns and helping them register with a GP practice in order to get their COVID vaccines.

Dorset Council has a statutory duty to provide emergency and temporary accommodation.

Need help to live independently? 

The Our Dorset Adult Social Care website helps residents find the support to live safe and independent lives. 

You’ll find a wide range of information on the website, including:  

  • Details of support services, as well as technology or equipment to you at home 
  • A directory of helpful services to support you in your community
  • Help to apply for, or renew, your Blue Badge  
  • Guidance to help you plan and pay for future care  

Visit the website at adultsocialcare.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Could you be a social worker? 

Clair Honnor started her career as a social worker more than 20 years ago and has worked in a variety of roles over the years. 

Clair said: “Social work can be challenging at times, but making a difference in a child’s life is deeply satisfying. 

“There’s no better way to understand what’s going on than visiting a family in their home and speaking with them. COVID-19 has had an impact on family life for many and, if anything, the need for help and home visits from social workers is even greater. There are so many vulnerable children who need our support. They need somebody to make sure they’re okay. 

“The best part of my job is building up trust with a family in my care and nurturing them to make the changes needed to have positive impact on their lives. 

“It’s about building connections with families, helping them find solutions, knowing you’ve made a difference. That makes the stressful days so much better.” 

Important site will benefit Dorset 

A former school, St Mary’s, Shaftesbury, could be used to provide high quality education provision for Dorset children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  

Dorset does not have enough educational provision for children and young people with SEND. Currently, too many have to travel far from home for their education– this is not good enough for them and it is also more expensive. 

St Mary’s has the potential to become somewhere all ages can use, offering excellent educational and community facilities. 

We have been listening to local people and exploring ideas about how to use this amazing facility to benefit the people of Dorset for generations to come. 

7. Spring is in the air

It’s been a long winter, but many of you will hopefully be looking forward to longer days and warmer temperatures.

Though we are still living with some restrictions, we still can do some things we enjoy.

We are blessed with fantastic beaches, countryside and country parks.  

Do you want to achieve a healthy living goal this spring? Maybe you want to lose weight, drink less, move more or quit smoking? LiveWell Dorset can help. Call LiveWell Dorset on 0800 840 1628

If you are just taking each day as it comes, that is also completely fine in these strange times!

no-one likes uncertainty and it is ok not to be ok. Keep talking and connecting with your friends and family, but if you do need to talk to someone anonymously for help, telephone Freephone 0800 652 0190, 24 hours a day.

8. COVID-19 testing

If you develop coronavirus symptoms: a new continuous cough, a high temperature, a loss or change of sense of smell, or a loss or change of sense of taste, you must self-isolate and book a test.

You can book a COVID-19 test by calling 119. Home testing kits are available for those who cannot get to a testing site.

There are testing sites around Dorset.

Vaccine update

Thank you to all the volunteers and NHS colleagues who have worked tirelessly to get the vaccination of people underway.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.

 Many thousands of vaccines are being delivered to Dorset’s communities.  

9. Getting the right stuff in the right bin

Dorset recycling rates are at an all-time high (59.7%) and your efforts are making us among the best in the country! There are still a few items cropping up in the wrong bin, so we’ve added a reminder below of what should go where.

Putting the wrong stuff in the wrong bin costs Dorset’s tax-payers hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in treatment costs and spoiled recyclable materials, not to mention the damage to the environment.

If you can’t reduce or reuse your waste, please make sure you dispose of it correctly.

right stuff right bin
Item Best place Last resort Never
Food waste

Home composting
Food waste bin

Black rubbish bin Any household recycling bin
Cartons (Tetrapak etc) Recycling bank in car park Black rubbish bin Any household recycling bin
Foil and foil items Recycling bank in car park

Household recycling centre
or
Black rubbish bin

Any household recycling bin
Plastic/carrier bags, crisp bags, wrapping and film from food packaging Recycling bank in supermarket, school etc Black rubbish bin Any household recycling bin
Non-compostable coffee cups Carton recycling bank in car park Black rubbish bin Any household recycling bin
Compostable coffee cups Home composting Black rubbish bin Any household recycling bin
Batteries Battery bag or shop tack back scheme Household recycling centre Any bin

10. Have your say on transforming travel’s sustainable travel routes

Revolutionising how we get about is the ambition of Dorset and BCP Councils’ £100 million Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) programme. TCF is all about building safe and accessible infrastructure to make sustainable travel the first choice, particularly for those shorter, local journeys that we often make by car.

TCF is funded by a £79m central government grant from the Department for Transport with additional money coming from the councils, local business groups and transport companies, giving a total programme budget of £102m.

Consultation is underway on plans for 78km of new cycling and walking routes and bus improvements across the south east Dorset city region.

Printed copies of the proposals are also available by calling 01202 451451.

Work is underway in Wimborne and Colehill and due to complete towards the end of 2021. This includes cycleways, crossings allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road safely, a speed limit reduction from Canford Bottom roundabout to Brook Lane, junction improvements along Leigh Road, additional green space including new trees.

11. Better connected

The council is spearheading many projects that lead on innovation and help close the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those who do not.

To find out whether you are eligible ring the Digital Hotline on 01305 221000

Free devices and Dorset’s Digital Hotline to transform lives

The council recently teamed up with national charity Everyone Connected to identify who would most benefit from a free device.

Beryl Davies from Sturminster Newton was one of 10 people from the shielding community to receive a free tablet device. She said: “This tablet has been brilliant; it’s opened up a whole new world for me.

“At first it was a bit difficult to use, but after speaking to the Digital Hotline it became a lot easier.

 “I can now keep in touch with my friends from church, pay bills online and stay up-to-date with what’s happening locally.”

The Dorset Digital Hotline can help residents and businesses with any technical enquiry.

The friendly team can be contacted every weekday, 10am to midday (except bank holidays). Telephone 01305 221048 (local call charges apply).

We have joined forces with tech companies and the tourism and farming sector to test how mobile technology can revolutionise the rural economy.

Called 5G RuralDorset, this government-backed  project aims to understand how next generation connectivity can help people lead safer and more prosperous lives.

Four research areas will trial public, social and business uses of 5G – from the world’s first wheat field grown by robots to making the Jurassic Coast safer through reliable connectivity. 

12. Foster Carers

At the start of the pandemic some of our Foster Carers opened their hearts to welcome Dorset children with Coronavirus symptoms.

Bravery and service takes many forms. We pay tribute to our Foster Carers who put their own needs aside to care for others. Thanks to them, vulnerable Dorset children were safe and well cared for.

Could you foster a child for Dorset?

We urgently need more Foster Carers for children in Dorset. If you have a spare room and would like to make a difference to a Dorset child or young person’s life, find out about a career in fostering.

Our Foster Carers come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnic groups. Please don’t rule yourself out, we would love more enquiries from people who are single, LGBTQ+, retired, in a civil partnership, living together, have pets, rent their homes and so on! We offer great pay, support and training.

 13. Our budget for 2021-22 explained

The council has increased its budget for services for the 2021-22 financial year to £313 million (from £304 million last year).  

Like most councils, we had expenditure related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included support for vulnerable residents through adult social care, housing and mental health.

We also incurred extra expenditure on PPE and COVID-secure arrangements, and saw a reduction in income.

Although the Government provided some funding for the additional costs and loss of income it doesn’t cover it fully.

Looking after our residents

Dorset has significantly more older people than many other areas - 29% are aged over 65 compared to 12% in London.

Over half of the council’s spending supports children at risk of neglect or abuse, disabled children and adults, and older people with significant, complex care needs.

Every year, Dorset also sees growing numbers of children diagnosed with special educational needs and disabilities.

The council has a legal duty to provide those vital services: we can’t turn away people in need.

Balancing the budget

Despite considerable additional government funding, the council was significantly overspent at the end of the financial year 2020-21. We covered the increase from our reserves. However, reserves are like building society savings; we can only spend these once.

Councillors considered whether to reduce expenditure by cutting some or all of our discretionary services. They want to continue providing these important services.

Government funding to councils has fallen by 60% since 2010. In Dorset we no longer receive a Revenue Support Grant from Government, although some councils still do. We also get less income from business rates than councils in more urban areas.

This means funding for essential local services in Dorset falls more heavily on council taxpayers than in other counties. We lobby government for a fairer deal.

Councillors faced stark choices so an increase of just under 5% in council tax was recommended to safeguard services.

Funding the budget

Increase council tax by just under 5% (just under 2% increase in general council tax, and just under 3% to fund adult social care); pay freeze for staff; further efficiencies and savings.

This means the annual rate for a Band D property increases from £1,694.79 to £1,779.39.

We are also working to make better use of our assets, including selling some buildings.

Financial support

If you have faced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and are struggling to pay your bills, you may be eligible for Council Tax Support.

Dorset Citizens Advice can provide support and advice if you are experiencing financial difficulties or are feeling stressed or worried. Call freephone 0800 144 8848.

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