County & District Councillor’s October Report

The Harvest Festival Season is over – with great effort being put in at all our villages to mark the event in their different ways. The days of our churches being packed by those who worked on the land, or supported those who did, are over but the old festivals have much to offer those who have come to live in our villages, they are still an important part of binding our communities together.

By the time you read this we will be well on the way to Advent and Christmas and the village celebrations which go with that. In Sturminster Newton we are working towards the switch on of the Christmas Lights on the tree on the 2nd December, as part of our Christmas celebration with a Producers Market in the streets and Craft Market at the Exchange, Lantern Parade, Choir and of course Father Christmas and his Elf (who bears a striking resemblance to a well-known local solicitor) in their Grotto. Unfortunately there will be no garlands across the street this year, not because of “elfin safety” but because of the costs of public liability insurance when the garlands have to be strung from old buildings. As I said in my last “blog” simply to satisfy the insurance company by doing a professional “stress test” will cost towards £800 and have to be redone every three years. So no garlands of lights. In compensation we will be having the usual big tree, small trees on the buildings and an Advent Calendar of Decorated Windows.

The trouble with any of these town events is raising the money to run them, insurance and road closure notices being a large part of the cost. They are not something charities will fund, or grants pay for in total, nor can the Town Council afford to pay for them. The sort of events I mean are the Christmas event, having more flowers in the town in the summer, painting the railings and similar street furniture around the town to keep it looking nice, publicising the town. A small group of us in Sturminster are considering the possibility of running a community shop specifically to help pay for such activities. We plan a shop selling good quality items including local craft work and perhaps clothes on an agency basis. We are fortunate to have a successful local retailer as a Project Team Member and advisor. We also plan renting facilities to charities and organisations who may want some desk space or a meeting room. It may also be possible to have a cash dispenser although another one is about to go into town at the former Barclays building.

Sadly our last remaining bank, Lloyds closed at the end of September but they are sending a mobile bank to the Library Carpark on three days of the week (12.30 to 15.15 on Mondays and Fridays and 9.30 to 11.30 on Wednesdays, with NatWest also sending a mobile on Friday mornings to the Station Road Car Park. The mobiles appear to be well used. The post office is also working hard to fill the void left by the loss of Banks, and offers private customers the opportunity to draw out and pay in money. Of course where there are post offices in the villages they are also able to offer those facilities. The people who are finding it hardest to adapt to the loss of the Banks are the businesses who either take large quantities of cash or need cash, although I notice that some are being mutually supportive.

I spent an interesting afternoon with young people from across Dorset at the recent Youth Voice Summit Event. The event was organised by the Youth Council and aimed to identify what the main local issues are which worry our young people and to give them the tools to influence those issues. The main problem raised by all ages was that of transport in our rural area or rather the lack of public transport, for which there is no easy answer. The would-be users of transport in the rural area are of all ages, tend to be spread over wide areas and have a variety of needs which cannot be met by bus services in the way that they can in urban areas. Community transport tends to be seen as only for old people but there is no reason younger people cannot hire buses from our local community transport scheme, Nordcat, providing they can raise the funds – it needs a bit of creative thinking. Another partial solution is sharing transport whenever possible. For those over 16 who have sufficient money the Wheels to Work Scheme enables them to pay a monthly sum to buy a moped or motor bike and the necessary kit, insure it and ultimately to own it. Details can be obtained from the SturQuest Office.

Finally a plea to any former pupils of Lord Digby’s School, Sherborne which gave way to the Gryphon School in 1992. Next year will be 100 years since the Old Girls Association was founded and we are planning an extra special Founders Day Service at the Abbey on 12th May, 2.30 p.m. followed by a Reunion Tea at the Eastbury Hotel. Anyone is welcome to the Abbey and indeed to the Eastbury, but the latter needs to be booked in advance and I fear we will have to put a limit on numbers. The Founders Day Service is shared with the Old Fosterians. I know a number of year groups are planning their own reunions to coincide with that weekend. We will be producing a special edition of the Old Girls Association Magazine for May and are looking for people’s own stories about their time at the school. We are also trying to do a history of the uniform through the ages – any contributions welcome. So if you went to Lord Digby’s and you want to know more please get in touch with me – friends and family also welcome.

Surgeries in November
Saturday 4th 9.30 a.m. – Glanvilles Wootton Village Hall; 10.30 a.m. Pulham Village Hall; 11.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton.
Saturday 11th 10.30 a.m. Hilton Coffee Morning
Saturday 18th – 9.30 a.m. Hazelbury Bryan Village Hall; 10.45 a.m. Okeford Fitzpaine Village Hall
Preferred e.mail address – cllr.p.batstone@btinternet.com
Phone 01258 472583
Post – Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2DJ
Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page Councillor Pauline Batstone

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