Councillor update from Paul Hilliard and Lesley Dedman
BCP Council had to make significant changes to some services during the initial COVID19 lockdown as well as ensuring that key services like waste collection, adult services, health & environmental etc were maintained.
The impact of lost income and higher costs related to some services is likely to result in a £30m funding gap for BCP Council. Whilst the government has provided some finance and announced other assistance to Councils there is a shortfall. BCP and others continue to lobby the government for fair funding.
Gradually more services were rolled out with appropriate safety measures and where staffing allowed. One area that is quite visual is the reduced cutting of verges. To save time and resource only a metre strip alongside pathways are being cut.
Libraries and museums opened in July. The beaches and parks were busy throughout as people walked and cycled whilst gyms were shut. Obviously when the great weather arrived, the beach became especially busy resulting in the BCP Council, police and other partners calling a ‘Major Incident’.
Beach patrols and care of open spaces has been maintained in areas where reduced resource and safety measures allowed. Bin collections in these areas continued, and just about kept up with the daily flows during peak periods.
The RNLI began their presence at Avon Beach towards the end of June. Their monitoring of jet skis and wind surfers is in joint partnership with the police. As is the case with most things in life we hope people use common sense and show consideration for others.
Both the Beach Hut café and the Noisy Lobster operated a takeaway service from June when the toilets were able to be opened. We thank them both for the way they worked with the council to ensure that appropriate safety measures and signage were available.
The parking team issued several hundred parking fines during summer where inconsiderate and dangerous parking occurred. Traffic Regulation Orders are still being investigated for coast roads.
COVID19 made people think before using their cars, and it encouraged home working. We hope that the council can keep these positive behaviours going as we look to address the climate and ecological emergency. BCP has made significant steps on sourcing renewable energy for buildings and smarter working by staff.
Christchurch Town Council
CTC is progressing with a Neighbourhood Plan, following up on the Residents Survey from 2019. More details will follow, and we encourage you all to get involved to shape our area.
The Town Council has also been active with monthly planning meetings providing statutory consultee statements to BCP Council on contentious planning applications in our area.
The Town Council is pleased to announce a Community Grants Scheme for charities and organisations to apply for. The Community Grants Working Group shall then sit to decide each application on its own merits in line with policy.
These grants are for charities and organisations which operate on a not-for-profit basis and can demonstrate wide public benefit to the residents of Christchurch. The Policy and Application Form describes the scheme and those organisations which qualify. Applicants are referred to the policy in the first instance, and the Town Clerk is contactable via E Mail if further clarification is sought. https://christchurch-tc.gov.uk/community-grants-scheme/ refers.
Surgeries are presently on hold but Paul and Lesley are freely contactable by phone and email, and will gladly discuss issues or concerns safely face to face if required
Staffing (including volunteer wardens) has now largely returned to normal and additional signage has been placed on site but we are unfortunately still dealing with daily incidents of wildlife disturbance from both land and water.
Stanpit Marsh – Image Wikipedia
A male roe deer has been seen recently on both sides of the harbour. Oystercatchers made several attempts to breed on the reserve but a combination of high tides washing out a nest and (likely) foxes unfortunately prevented success. The ponies are being checked at least once daily and, in reality, more often (many thanks to Zena Lee, our senior volunteer warden!) There are now 12 foals on site, all healthy.
Two new seats were placed on Crouch Hill, and the Dorothy Baker bench has also been restored and returned. Two bridges on the main track were repaired in June.
A new fence around Riversmeet Meadow (the former golf course) will be installed later in the year.
Unfortunately we were not able to finish the new wildlife pond due to the lockdown and materials not arriving. Luckily though the ‘hole’ was at a stage where it could be safely left. We did manage to finish tree-planting and (apart from two that disappeared and one snapped off) we are keeping a close eye on these and watering when we can, but the very dry conditions are against us this year. The site as a whole is certainly growing wilder as time goes on and continues to be a popular destination and a good location for social distancing.
Paul Hilliard, as Chair of Governors at Highcliffe School, reports that the school has been open for business as usual for 40 to 70 ‘key worker’ children throughout lockdown. All other children who were unable to physically attend school were fully supported by teaching staff providing course work and tests via the internet.
Year’s 10 and 12 students had a phased return in June and July for face-to-face discussions with teachers to ensure they were on course with the curriculum. Virtual transition days for Year 6 children moving from various primary schools to Highcliffe in September were also undertaken, and celebration days were organised for those who had taken exams.
The school is actively planning for a safe return to school for all children in September.
Paul Hilliard & Leslie Dedman, Local Councillors