Dorset Council News magazine - Issue four- November 2020
Audio recordings of issue four of the magazine
Recordings of the summarised magazine content are available to listen to.
Transcript of the recordings of issue four of the magazine
- 2020, the year none of us will forget
- Could you foster a child in Dorset?
- Health and social care support online
- Have your say on Dorset's information centres
- Health and wellbeing
- Gold award
- What do councillors do?
- Dorset Council Local Plan
- Climate Strategy and Action Plan
- Improved broadband speeds
- Our finances
- Reach out early for support
- Christmas bin collections
- Eastern Dorset News
- Western Dorset News
- Southern Dorset News
- Northern Dorset News
1. Welcome to the winter 2020 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 today.
These last few months have shown that we are a ‘can do’ county. I’m truly humbled by the spirit, dedication and comradery in our local communities and our own workforce, with people supporting each other through the COVID-19 pandemic.
During lockdown, many council employees took on new roles and worked round the clock to help our most vulnerable residents. And many did this whilst juggling home-schooling, childcare and caring for their own relatives.
Communities and ward councillors pulled together to support each other. Whether doing shopping for neighbours, cooking meals, collecting prescriptions, you, the people of Dorset, have been wonderful.
At the time of this recording, the number of COVID cases in Dorset has been lower than many other areas of the UK. I don’t doubt that this is due in large part to residents following the public health guidance and helping to keep themselves and others safe.
There are uncertain times ahead, but it’s clear you have shown true community spirit during this time of crisis. We’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed.
Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council
2. 2020, the year none of us will forget
The number of COVID-19 cases in Dorset since March has been lower than many other areas of the UK. But unfortunately, there have been a number of
deaths which are of course a source of great sadness.
The measures put in place to minimise spread of the virus and help keep people safe have had a significant impact on all our lives. Thank you for your continued patience.
Our main objective throughout the pandemic has been to continue delivering vital services. We’ve worked closely with our partners, changed how we do things and redeployed some employees to keep critical services running.
Our support for the most vulnerable residents who were shielding is still in place. Help is available with supermarket and medicine deliveries, befriending and health and wellbeing. If you, or someone you know needs help, call 01305 221000
We’ve been supporting businesses to weather the storm. We paid out £111m to retail and hospitality businesses and arranged a business rates holiday to those eligible. Dorset’s high streets re-opened to shoppers in June.
After a delayed start, Dorset has had lots of visitors which is good news for the local visitor economy. There were some well publicised issues with littering, disposable barbecues and anti-social behaviour, but most visitors enjoy their visits in a responsible and respectful way.
Our Local Outbreak Management Plan sets out how we will work with other public services and communities to prevent, identify and respond to local outbreaks.
- NHS Test and Trace information to support people to self-isolate quickly
- supporting higher risk settings (such as care homes) if they have an outbreak
- providing local data and surveillance so we can take quick action to control the spread of the virus
- providing assurance and information about how we are preventing outbreaks
- protecting our health and care system and promoting the recovery of our local economy
We continue to work closely with businesses and organisations in sectors such as care, tourism, hospitality and manufacturing to make sure preventative measures are in place to keep everyone safe.
3. Could you foster a child in Dorset?
Babies, children and teenagers come into foster care for many different reasons, including neglect, abuse and family illness. What you can give them is a comfortable, safe, and caring environment.
We are looking for foster carers from all sorts of backgrounds. There are very few barriers to taking on a foster child. As a foster carer you’ll receive a financial allowance as well as training and support.
Call 01305 225568 for more information.
Making Dorset the best place to grow up
Over the summer we asked children and young people ‘what would make Dorset the best place to grow up?’
We received poems, paintings, models and films and have used them to help shape our new Children, Young People and Family Plan.
The plan will map out how life in Dorset should be improved for children and young people, so they get the best possible start in life. It covers education and early support for families, foster care, housing, mental health support, careers advice, childcare and how to improve provision for those with special educational needs or a disability.
We are looking for social workers
If you are passionate about improving children’s lives we offer a competitive salary, flexible working, great training and other benefits. Find out more, call 01305 225568
New special school for Dorset
The school will be built so more children can be educated closer to their homes.
It is expected to welcome up to 75 young people aged 14-19 with autism and complex learning difficulties. We are asking families who could benefit for their views on the plans, before deciding when it will open, where it will be built and which academy trust will run it
4. Health and social care support online
Do you, or does someone you know, need help with daily living? A new website gives people in Dorset the help and support they need to live safe and independent lives.
The site is designed to provide at-a-glance information to answer some of the most common queries people have including:
- how to apply for or renew your Blue Badge
- how to report a concern about someone who is vulnerable
- guidance on financing and paying for care
- finding equipment to live independently at home
The website is easy to navigate and offers advice and guidance from Dorset’s local NHS, council and community organisations.
For help with living at home, advice about finding and paying for care, and much more visit adultsocialcare.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Building better lives
In August we opened Red Oak Court, our social housing development in Wareham. It provides 17 smart and compact units for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs, and people in urgent need of housing.
Plans for Bridport Gateway were shared with members of the public over the summer and the feedback we received is being used to shape the planning application for the scheme.
The project aims to develop a new nursing and dementia care home, and affordable housing for health and care workers. If the proposals get planning permission, the development could be built on two sites, close to the town centre.
5. News in brief
Have your say on Dorset’s information centres
COVID-19 has highlighted people need more information and advice about their local area, including services and support.
Tourist Information Centres (T.I.Cs) are a traditional way to provide face-to-face service for visitors and residents. However, their use has dropped with recent
developments in technology.
We want to know how and why you use Dorset’s T.I.Cs. We also want to know if you think we should continue funding T.I.Cs separately, or whether the service could be provided in another way.
You can request a survey by calling 01305 224458 or complete it on our website.
The results will be considered before any final decisions about T.I.Cs are taken. It is expected that the council’s Cabinet will make a decision during 2021.
Making sure we’ve got the right housing
We are preparing a housing strategy to help us understand the level of need for affordable homes, suitable housing for homeless households, extra care housing for older people and adults with disabilities, and housing for children who need support.
We need more options, instead of sending people out of Dorset away from friends and families. We need more self-contained accommodation for people without a permanent home, so we don’t rely on bed and breakfast accommodation.
6. Health and wellbeing
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- wash your hands regularly
- keep your distance from others
- limit contact with others
- wear a face covering in public spaces, unless you are exempt.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms, including high temperature, a new continuous cough, a loss or change in your sense of smell or in your sense of taste, please book a test straight away.
- book a test by calling 119
- stay at home until you get your test result
- do not leave home for any other reason than to go for your test
Mental health support
Feeling stressed, worried or low is normal and we all experience these feelings at some point. If you feel you need support, lots of services can help.
Connection is a free 24/7 mental health helpline for people in Dorset. Call 0300 123 5440.
The Samaritans are always open and ready to listen. Call Freephone 116 123.
Time to get your flu vaccine
Keep yourself, family and friends protected from flu this year by having a vaccine.
During this winter more residents are eligible for a free vaccine:
- adults 65 and over
- people with long term health conditions (including children in at-risk groups from 6 months of age)
- pregnant women
- children aged 2 and 3
- pupils in reception class and school years 1 to 7
- frontline health or social care workers
- members of shielding households
To book a vaccine contact your GP, pharmacist, midwife or school immunisation team.
7. Gold award
Durlston Country Park, Swanage recently received a Gold award in the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism category at the Visit England Awards for Excellence.
It was recognised for its work to be accessible and inclusive. This included providing off-road mobility buggies and wheelchairs, British Sign Language and Easy Read guides, and accessible volunteer opportunities for people who are socially isolated.
Take a trip to the park and see why the award was so deserved. Telephone 01929 424443.
Black History Month
October is celebrated as Black History Month in the UK, recognising and celebrating the achievement of Black people here and across the world.
Our culture has been enriched and our diverse society made stronger because of the people who travelled here to build new lives, as well as the achievements and contributions of their descendants.
If you would like to find out more about Black history in Dorset, the Dorset History Centre, Dorchester, has documents and photos. See their website at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/Dorset-History-Centre
Helping children have fun this summer
Children enjoyed a fun ‘Summer in Dorset’ thanks to volunteers, community groups and council employees. We sent passes to more than 5,000 children so they could enjoy activities like paddle boarding, horse riding and archery.
Many of the activities were organised by community groups. Passes were given to children, including those with disabilities or special educational needs.
8. What do councillors do?
Many of us think councillor work is all about being in committee meetings. However, councillors spend a lot of time talking to local communities and working to find solutions.
We recently spoke to Councillors Louie O’Leary (Conservative, Littlemoor and Preston) and Molly Rennie (Liberal Democrat, Dorchester East) to find out what an average day is like for them.
Before I start my full-time job, I’ll catch up on the Dorset Echo and social media, then at lunch time I’ll make phone calls to residents and council officers.
After work, since the start of COVID-19 I go straight to the Littlemoor Food Bank which I help organise, and collect goods generously donated by local supermarkets and residents.
I’ll walk round the local ward to look at reported issues and new matters. After dinner I’ll deal with emails, social media updates and letters.
At the weekend, I’ll spend time on my ward activities. I’ll communicate with new residents, answer correspondence and read council committee papers.
I also keep in touch with residents by telephone and listen to what is important to them and learn about any problems they may have so that I can help get these resolved.
On Sunday, my walk from the local church involves many impromptu streetside and supermarket surgeries with residents. I also spend time producing a residents’ newsletter with my fellow ward councillor, Tony Ferrari.
I also serve on the Harbour Committee, something I’m passionate about, and spend Friday and Saturday evenings at the harbour listening to fishermen, dive boat operators and local businesses about harbour related issues.
I work to the best of my ability to make a difference.
My day starts by checking email. I’ll read replies to questions I’ve sent to council officers and action new requests from local residents.
During the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of ‘virtual’ meetings with council officers and other councillors. I also attend fortnightly cross-party meetings with the local MP when we talk about local issues as well as government matters.
Working from home enables me to squeeze in some time with family too.
I’m chairman of the Dorset Domestic Abuse Welfare Committee, and COVID-19 changed the way we run meetings. Previously sessions could be held face to-face, but during lockdown clients experiencing domestic abuse could only attend sessions online, often from their home.
This isn’t the best for many people, so I worked with the committee to find a better solution and we have been able to restart face-to-face sessions twice a week.
I recently helped get a grave moved that wasn’t in an accessible location. By talking to all the parties involved, we found a more suitable site. During the pandemic I helped a family to get free school meals for the first time due to changes in their circumstances They are now back on their feet, and it’s things like this that make being a councillor so worthwhile.
If you have a concern, whether it’s about your own circumstances, or about your local area, why not talk to your local councillor? Telephone 01305 221000 or visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/councillors
9. Dorset Council Local Plan
The council devises plans that help shape society, the economy and the environment over a 15-year period. We are working on the Dorset
Council Local Plan which we aim to consult on in 2021 and adopt in 2023.
The plan aims to:
- protect and enhance Dorset’s unique natural environment and biodiversity
- deliver suitable housing, including affordable housing
- work to give residents a good quality of life with high quality, well designed developments with cycle ways and access to the countryside
- what the plan cannot do• provide unlimited improvements to public transport. We identify improvements needed but they require funding, and development does not generally generate enough funds to make significant improvements
- prevent development – councils are expected to follow the Government’s standard formula to identify the minimum number of homes expected to be planned for.
The recent Housing White Paper, called ‘Planning for the future’, is considering changes to the planning system. This may change the way local plans are developed. Call 01305 251010 to find out more.
Purbeck Local Plan
The Inspector examining Purbeck Local Plan 2018-2034 has indicated it can be found sound if certain changes are made. This is a normal part of the process and consultation will take place on the changes. Following the consultation, the Inspector
will hopefully recommend the council adopts the plan. It will then be used to guide the new development.
Information gathered for preparation of the plan will help develop the new Dorset Council Local Plan.
10. Climate Strategy and Action Plan
In July, we approved the first draft of our Climate and Ecological Emergency strategy and we will shortly seek views on it.
This strategy recommends areas for action that will deliver a realistic and achievable approach to ensuring Dorset Council is carbon-neutral by 2040.
The strategy includes (but is not limited to) the following recommendations:
- maximise renewable energy opportunities at all Dorset Council buildings.
- ensure Dorset Council supports sustainable development
- increase biodiversity on identified areas of council land
- change as many vehicles within the council fleet as possible to ultra-low-carbon replacements.
- look at new ways of working to reduce carbon emissions
- encourage green business growth and tourism as Dorset becomes the clean air place to live and visit.
Using the strategy as our starting point, we have drafted a fully-costed Climate Action Plan to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. You’re able to request a copy of the strategy, action plan and consultation form at your local library.
Revolutionising how we all travel is an ambition of Dorset Council and BCP Council.
The £100 million three-year Transforming Travel programme aims to create a step-change in local sustainable transport options for everyone. £79 million will come from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund and the remaining funding will come from BCP Council, Dorset Council, Dorset Public Health, local bus operators and sustainable transport operators.
The programme will tackle traffic congestion hotspots, with local transport corridors with improvements to bus, cycle and walking routes, for better connectivity into and around the conurbation.
Dreaming of a greener winter
Dorset Highways continues its move towards a greener way of working, with a new winter gritting routine about to start. This year, a route based forecasting system will be used to decide when and where to salt the gritting network.
This will reduce emissions from fewer lorry movements. It will use less rock salt, which is a finite resource, and it will save money by reducing the number of gritting runs needed.
Additional funding from the Department for Transport will permanently repair some of
Dorset’s most damaged residential roads.
12. Improved broadband speeds
Hundreds of Dorset people’s lives have been transformed by better broadband this year and even more can benefit now the council has invested £1m to top-up an existing voucher scheme.
Fast, reliable broadband has never been so vital, keeping people connected to loved ones and helping them to work from home through lockdown.
To find out whether you are eligible ring the Digital Hotline on 01305 221000
Helping more people get online
The Digital Hotline has helped hundreds of people through lockdown. Digital Champion volunteers have helped residents overcome digital challenges such
as finding out how to get better broadband, getting online for the first time or using new technology such as video conferencing.
Call 01305 221000 between 10am and midday every weekday to find out more.
13. Our finances
Like many councils across the country, Dorset Council has taken a big financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. We estimate that the total impact on the council’s budget is around £64m.
The pandemic has resulted in additional expenditure responding to increased demand for social care for adults and children, extra PPE for employees, and support for people who were shielding.
Lost income from suspension of car parking charges, closure of leisure centres and other commercial services, and lower than anticipated income from business rates and council tax has also affected us.
In response, the government has provided extra funding totalling £23.7m to support the council’s budget pressures as a result of COVID-19.
However, this still leaves a gap of around £40m this financial year. This financial year (2020-21) we will be forced to use our reserves to cover this.
However, reserves can only be spent once. So for next financial year (2021-22) we
will be looking to reduce the cost of how we deliver services. And we continue
to lobby government, directly with government minsters and via Dorset MPs, for the funding we need to serve the people of Dorset.
14. Reach out early for support
These are difficult times, and we are encouraging anyone struggling because of the COVID-19 crisis in Dorset to seek help early.
Under pressure financially? Help is available
We are working with Dorset Citizens Advice, and their specialist and experienced advisers provide free, confidential and impartial advice.
Call the Dorset Citizens Advice on Freephone 0800 144 8848
COVID-19 has changed life for everyone. For some people, these changes can be difficult to cope with and can have a significant impact on mental health.
Connection, a 24/7 mental health helpline is open to Dorset residents and visitors of all ages who need urgent mental health support. Call 0300 123 5440.
Healthy relationships and domestic abuse
If you’re struggling with your relationship, or finding things at home particularly difficult, reach out because help is available.
Relate has advisers to support you and they can be contacted on 01302 380900. Alternatively speak to the Samaritans on Freephone 116 123.
If you need advice about domestic abuse, our YouFirst advisers are at the end of the phone on 0800 032 5204.
In an emergency, always dial 999.
15. Christmas bin collections
Between Christmas day and Monday 11 January, your rubbish and recycling collections will be on a different day of the week than usual.
Below is the usual collection day and the day the collection will change to:
Bin collection dates
|Usual collection date||Changes|
Thursday 24 December
Friday 25 December
Changes to Monday 28 December
Monday 28 December
Changes to Tuesday 29 December
Tuesday 29 December
Changes to Wednesday 30 December
Wednesday 30 December
Changes to Thursday 31 December
Thursday 31 December
Changes to Saturday 2 January
Friday 1 January
Changes to Monday 4 January
Monday 4 January
Changes to Tuesday 5 January
Tuesday 5 January
Changes to Wednesday 6 January
Wednesday 6 January
Changes to Thursday 7 January
Thursday 7 January
Changes to Friday 8 January
Friday 8 January
Changes to Saturday 9 January
Monday 11 January
- we will collect up to two extra sacks of rubbish beside your bin on your first rubbish collection after Christmas Day.
- we will always collect extra recycling if placed in your own boxes, with glass kept separate. No garden waste collections will take place from Christmas Day until Friday 8 January
- household recycling centres are open from 10am to 4pm daily, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day
Many households produce extra waste over Christmas, but much of it can be recycled.
Remember that you can recycle:
- wrapping paper (not foil or glittery paper)
- cardboard boxes and recyclable packaging (not polystyrene)
- christmas cards and envelopes
- cooked and uncooked food, using your food waste bin
Dorset Council does not collect Christmas trees with rubbish or recycling at the kerbside.
16. Now follows some Eastern Dorset news
New telephone befriending service
If you feel lonely or isolated through the loss of community groups, this service is for you. Groups of up to six people are brought together by PramaLife for chats in hour-long calls. The calls are free and no internet access is needed.
Contact Sue Warr on 07867 354588.
Volunteers from East Dorset Citizens Advice are helping people who are suffering from mental health issues arising from the results of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes providing specialist advice in areas of mental health, domestic abuse and family breakdown.
If you would like to help, please call 01202 884738.
Health and wellbeing podcasts from your GP
Penny’s Hill GP Practice in Ferndown is offering patients, families and friends a new way to engage with them about their health and wellbeing through a new podcast. It covers a wide range of topics, such as; quitting smoking, weight management, getting active and dealing with stress and anxiety.
You can listen to the podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and on the Penny’s Hill Practice website. Visit www.pennyshillpractice.co.ukor call 01202 897200
Get outdoors this winter
At Moors Valley there are lots of opportunities for you and your family to get active in the great outdoors this winter.
From walking to mindfulness, keeping active helps you achieve a healthy lifestyle and the team will make sure you have fun along the way! Call 01425 470721.
16. Now follows some Western Dorset news
Ways for students to look after their wellbeing
Local GPs, Public Health Dorset, schools, charities and other health services are helping young people in mid-Dorset improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
This is based on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing: connect, take notice, keep learning, get active and give.
The students are being encouraged to do tasks under these themes. The schools will be asked to take part in a consultation in 2021 to see how it impacted the young people and if this scheme could be offered to other parts of Dorset.
LiveWell Dorset helping you to achieve a healthy lifestyle
Are you wanting to make some healthy lifestyle changes but haven’t found momentum to start your journey yet? LiveWell Dorset can help. If you want to lose weight, quit smoking, reduce your alcohol intake or get more active, contact LiveWell Dorset on 0800 840 1628.
Welcome back to Dorchester
Dorchester has welcomed shoppers back to the high street. Everyone has pulled together to make the shopping experience as safe and pleasant as possible. Social distancing measures are still in place with good signage and hand sanitisers provided throughout the town.
Dorchester has a unique mix of independent traders and high street brands as well as a good variety of cafes, bars, and restaurants to suit every taste.
Dorchester’s market on a Wednesday is well worth a visit. While you’re in town, why not explore Dorchester’s 6,000 years of rich heritage with a visit to Shire Hall Courthouse Museum and the Keep Military Museum.
16. Now follows some Southern Dorset news
Enjoy a rickshaw ride in Weymouth
The charity Cycling Without Age is helping people with reduced mobility enjoy their community and environment through the pleasure of a bike ride.
Their purpose-built trishaw takes two passengers and is piloted by a cyclist who steers a slow enjoyable ride around Weymouth, along the Esplanade or Rodwell trail.
If you would like a ride or want to volunteer as a pilot contact email@example.com or call 07555 416399
Shop Local, Stay Local, Support Local
Please support our fantastic COVID-secure town centres this winter. After a truly unprecedented year, local businesses deserve your support now more than ever before. Our local towns have a fantastic selection of independent retailers! With vibrant pubs, restaurants, cafés - there’s so much to enjoy.
Upton residents pull together
Upton residents pulled together when COVID-19 hit to help their community. Over 50 local volunteers rallied round, delivering prescriptions and shopping. A dedicated hotline took over 1,100 calls and 630 cream teas were delivered to residents aged 70-plus or shielding.
£10,000 was raised; £1,300 issued as emergency grants for local families; and £1,000 of free summer sports camp places funded for local children. A food donation scheme was set up and local shops partnered.
If you need help or have time to get involved in Upton Together, contact 01202 030379
Sports in Purbeck
Purbeck Sports Centre reopened this summer. There are a number of safety measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
16. Now follows some Northern Dorset news
Come and enjoy the indoor heated pool, fully-equipped gym, racket sports, exercise classes and courses this autumn and winter. Call 01929 500 000
New bike and carriage for people in the Sturminster area
A new bike and carriage have been funded with help from The Vale Network PCN practice champions and Dr Greenup. Public Health Dorset also contributed £500 to the scheme.
The Cycling Without Age trishaw will collect people from care homes and their own homes and take them on an enjoyable ride in the great outdoors.
Currently, rides are only available for people in Sturminster and the surrounding areas, but there are hopes they can be extended to other areas. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Gillingham multi-million-pound transport works
Work has started at the Shaftesbury Road/New Road junction.
Dorset Council purchased The Old Manse to allow widening of the busy junction to increase its capacity. Following the demolition of the property, work will start on the junction improvements.
Work has recently been completed on Station Road to widen the pavements and introduce a permanent one-way southbound restriction. Some minor work has also been completed, improving pedestrian access to and from the train station.
Traffic management measures will continue as the work progresses and we thank you for your patience so far.