A new year and a new Council as from 1st April. The existing Councillors will continue in post until 2nd May with the Shadow Council and Shadow Executive Committee having responsibility for running the new Council until a new set of 82 Councillors have been elected. The new Ward of Blackmore Vale takes in the parishes of Pulham, Mappowder, Hazelbury Bryan, Fifehead Neville, Woolland, Ibberton, Okeford Fitzpaine, Lydlinch and Ibberton and replaces the former Lydden Vale Ward of North Dorset District Council which in turn is part of the Blackmore Vale Division of the County Council. Glanvilles Wootton becomes part of the Sherborne Rural Ward. The plan is to save money and deliver a more efficient service to residents by operating more efficiently with fewer managers, fewer councillors (saving £500,000 pa.) fewer buildings and continuing and growing use of electronic means of communications. As I have said before, the biggest budget items are Children and Families and Adult Social Care taking three quarters of the income of the current County Council.
Before Christmas the County Council received a large sum of money towards our high cost of road repairs so please make sure you report the areas and potholes which are worrying you – either report on line (dorsetforyou) or by telephone to 01305 221000. The Shadow Council have agreed a Highways Maintenance Programme for the next two years who indicates resurfacing or surface dressing to a number of roads in our area. I try and drive around most of the lanes in my Division every month or so, in addition to the direct journeys I may make, and am pleased to see how some of them have been improved over the past few months. In particular the dreaded Marsh Lane between Hazelbury Bryan and Ansty has received long overdue treatment although the water leak at the Hazelbury Bryan end is still a problem causing surface erosion and needs sorting.
An Enquiry Day into the service which children with special educational needs (SEND) get from the County. Councillors met with children, their parents and carers, head teachers, practitioners and those who commission services to hear what works and what does not work. In the absence of more money from central government for SEND Councillors are determined to see what can done to make the existing funds go further and be used more effectively.
My attention was drawn this month to the work of The Prince’s Countryside Fund which has grants of up to £50,000 available for projects that will provide a long-term positive impact to the individuals and communities they seek to benefit. The Trust provides funding towards projects affecting areas of greatest rural need. The grants aim to sustain rural communities, improve the prospects of viability for farm and rural busineses and supports ai delivery in an emergency and build resilience. For more information look at their website but it may be of value to people in our community. The closing date for the current round of applications is the February.
During the coming month I will be at:
Pulham Coffee Morning on Saturday 2nd February at 10.30 a.m. the Exchange Coffee Bar at 11.30 a.m.
Hilton Coffee Morning at The Church on 9th February
Okeford Fitzpaine on Saturday 16th February
Preferred e.mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone – 01258 472583
Facebook Page – Councillor Pauline Batstone
Website – sturminster-newton.org