Summer is normally a quiet time for local authorities and councillors, a time just to catch up with normal life, but this August has been different. It has been different because of the work to set up the Dorset Council, the new unitary authority for the rural County of Dorset. We continue to have have fortnightly Organisational Transformation Board Meetings about the aims, and progress towards meeting those aims. In a nutshell what we want to achieve is doing what the Council needs to do for its residents as efficiently, effectively and economically as possible, amalgamating and reducing duplicating areas of activity which should save money. What it needs to do is deliver those services which it must in law deliver and also endeavour to ensure residents access services which improve the short and long term quality of their lives. It wont be perfect, it wont meet with everyone’s approval but we will do the best we can to build the foundations for the new Council to build on. We cannot commit the new Councillors as to what they do and how but we can provide a basis to work on. Steps are being put in place by the political parties to find councillors to stand for election in May next year and of course anyone can stand as an Independent Councillor. We will be in the interesting position of the new authority legally being in place on 1st April but the existing Councillors continuing to be legally in power until the 5th May, the day after the local elections.
Meanwhile business continues as usual in all the local authorities and in scrutiny we are working towards an Enquiry Day into how the local authority delivers help and support to those with special educational needs and also how the new Youth Clubs are operating after the closure of the Youth Centres – or not. My own committee of Safeguarding Scrutiny has two more meetings to go which will be used to finish pieces of work, notably about school exclusions, and to tie up loose ends.
As well as the work coming directly from the local authorities there is also the locally generated work. Following the closure of the SturQuest Office In Sturminster, and the decision of the Town Council not to continue the employment of the Community Resource Worker, I have been trying, as County Councillor and a Town Councillor to ensure that several of the pieces of work Jacqui had been responsible for did not just come to a sudden end. As well as continuing KnowStur which works with migrants to the town, there are several relatively new projects to move forward. We plan to launch a new Chamber of Commerce in the New Year to bring the businesses of Stur and the surrounding area together to work to improve their economic situation. The existing Chamber of Trace, Commerce and Hospitality (SNATCH) has worked well over the years to promote retail and service businesses in the centre of town but participation has dropped off and it has now become predominantly an information mailing list plus has raised funds for the Christmas tree. The remaining SNATCH Officers are part of the team planning the new body. As said previously a Literary festival is planned on 15th June 2019 to bring people to the town to commemorate the work of Thomas Hardy, William Barnes and Robert Young. A monthly opportunity for the owners and worshippers of classic and vintage cars and motor cycles and indeed any interesting vehicle, to meet and admire will be held in Station on the first Saturday morning of each month from October onwards, with a special price of £5 for a bacon roll and coffee from Poets Corner Cafe. Also on the first Saturday in December we will have our usual day of Christmas events and I am looking for volunteers householders or businesses to decorate a special Christmas Window that everyone can look enjoy during December. Whilst all of these activities are centred on Stur. they will, hopefully, benefit the surrounding area.
I notice that a number of our lanes have had fairly large areas of patching done on their surfaces, which is better than nothing and thanks to the Highways team for doing this. It may not be the total makeover people would like but it does mean the money can go that bit further. The Highways team are also working with the various town and parish councils to try to find ways of reducing the speed of vehicles passing through, although that basically comes down to bad drivers.
I will not be doing my regular Saturday Councillor’s activities during October due to other commitments but will be happy to see people at other times by arrangement and of course am on the end of a phone or an e.mail.
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