County & District Councillor’s February Blog

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

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Phone – 01258 472583
Twitter @paulinebatstone
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County & District Councillor’s January Blog

A small team is working to grow the economy of Stur. and the surrounding area by bringing local businesses together in a new Chamber of Trade and Commerce. This is really taking off thanks to the efforts of former Community Resource Worker Jacqui Wragg. Businesses around the area are steadily joining and a launch meeting is planned for Thursday 31st Jan in the Bow Room, 5.30 p.m. with an outside speaker to tell us what other towns have done to support their businesses. Frome, Dorchester and Wimborne are all good examples of local retailers and service providers working together to keep their town centres thriving. We believe that by working together the businesses have a better chance of getting their collective voices heard by the new Dorset Council which will be in being from April. The Chamber will also offer the opportunities for networking and mutual support.

Another small team in Stur., pulled together by the High School, is hoping to get support and funding for an astro-turf pitch at the Sturminster Newton High School. It would be aimed primarily at football players but could also be available for other sports notably hockey. An artificial pitch would be of benefit to the school in school time but available for local clubs and teams to hire at other times. We need to hear from any teams or clubs who might be interested in using such a pitch, in order to help us in drafting any funding applications.

Work continues to form the new Dorset Council with Matt Prosser, formerly of Dorst Council’s Partnership, appointed as Chief Executive, and five Officers appointed to the next tier down. It is very clear that if savings are to be made by bringing the Councils together there have to be fewer managers operating in a shallower structure. Parish Councils and Parish Meetings have expressed concerns at the uncertainties which continue as to how the new Dorset Council will operate and what it will mean for them. It is very clear that for our local rural parishes little will have changed, in that they will still be liaising with Highways in particular for roads and drains, the Dorset Rangers for footpaths and Democratic Services for elections. No-one is expecting them to take on child care or adult services. However there may be ways we can work together to make our local communities stronger.


Cllr Pauline Batstone
County Councillor Blackmore Vale Division and District Councillor Lydden Vale.

Preferred e.mail address –
Phone – 01258 472583
Twitter @paulinebatstone
Facebook Page – Councillor Pauline Batstone
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Surgeries during January
Saturday 5th January 10.30 a.m. Surgery Pulham Village Hall. 11.30 a.m. Surgery The Exchange Coffee Ba
Saturday 12th January 11.00 Hilton Church Coffee Morning
Saturday 19th January 11.00 Okeford Fitzpaine Village Hall Mud Pie Cafe

County & District Councillor’s November Blog

As both District and County local authorities come closer together the workload for officers and Councillors is increasing with work to establish the new single Council for Dorset on 1st April 2019 going alongside the normal tasks and responsibilities of the individual Councils. The Parish and Town Councils also continue with their normal agendas but with an anxious eye on what is happening centrally, concerned that additional responsibilities may come their way or that they may miss out on opportunities for positive change. I see it as the role of the existing Councillors to be a channel of communication between all levels to try and help this change to be as smooth as possible.

I decided to take advantage of this relatively quiet time, compared with what is coming down the track as we get nearer to April, to flee the country for a few weeks and catch up with friends and relatives on the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand. Its good to get a fresh perspective on things from outside – how other people do things. I have come back with enthusiasm for different styles of bicycle racks, brilliant murals on otherwise grotty walls, ceramic mazes, excellent walking tracks ……. and really good and plentiful public loos which no one seems to vandalise. New Zealand in particular is making tremendous investments in facilities for the tourist trade. As far as Highways are concerned, not only does New Zealand have some potholes, but they have whole roads washed away by the sea or mudslides or lost in earthquakes. We are a beautiful county but the coastal settings in which some of their Highways people are working are stunning….. and under the ever watchful eyes of nearby seals.

So now its back to the reality of life in our lovely Dorset and Christmas is just around the corner.

Preferred e.mail address –
Phone – 01258 472583 Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page – Councillor Pauline Batstone
Facebook – Councillor Pauline Batstone

Availability in November:
Saturday 3rd Nov. 9.30 p.m. in Glanvilles Wootton; 10.30 a.m. Surgery in Pulham Village Hall; 11.30 a.m. Surgery in The Exchange Coffee Bar, Sturminster Newton
Saturday 12th Nov. Hilton Church Coffee Morning 11.00 a.m.
Saturday 17th Nov. Mud Pie Café Okeford Fitzpaine 11.00 a.

County & District Councillor’s October Blog

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.

Preferred e.mail address –
Phone – 01258 472583 Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page – Councillor Pauline Batstone
Facebook – Councillor Pauline Batstone

County & District Councillor’s September Blog

When I wrote my last blog I was half-way through a fortnight of being shadowed by one of our two UK Youth Parliament Representatives for Dorset, Laurence Hayward. Laurence survived a fairly hectic fortnight, which included a day with Simon Hoare MP in Westminster. The intention was that there should be two days but as Laurence was having to travel up each day the decision was made that he should not come on the second day but spend some time with Simon and his team int the autumn – and in any case it was believed there was nothing of particular interest happening that day. As it happened that turned out to be the day when Boris Johnson did his resignation speech in the House, so it would actually have been an interesting day indeed! Just shows how quickly things can change in politics…. “a week is a long time in politics” – Harold Wilson.

It was a great privilege to have Laurence with me and I look forward to working with him on how we can involve young people more in the decision making in their communities, working through their schools, the Youth Council and Youth Clubs. During the fortnight Laurence attended the Corporate Parenting Board, the Special Educational Needs Development Group and an Enquiry Day examining Children and Adolescent Mental Health, at all of which events there was much talk of getting the young persons views but actually Laurence was the only young person present. At present I fear there is genuine concern to engage with young people and their families but we are a long way off achieving that. An Enquiry Day into Children’s Services is planned for later this year and I hope we may have more success in getting contributions from parents and hopefully young people.

Jumping to a totally different topic, I have been working with one local resident, a widowed lady on a very low state pension, to help her claim financial support which she would probably have been entitled to ten years ago. A lot of money has been foregone by her because she just did not know about Pension Credit, Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit, or at least that they might apply to her and would have doubled her income. This is not about scrounging, it is about receiving funds that someone is entitled to. I am always willing to help. I am not an expert but I can usually find people who are, not least the MP’s Constituency Support Worker, Diana Mogg, who has direct access to people in the Department of Work and Pensions who are responsible for these things. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) is the best known source of advice and guidance with benefits and they receive some local authority money to provide that service. They are anxious to help and in particular are concerned that people applying for Universal Credit, the benefit for working age people, may not know they can also apply for Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit. Nowadays Universal Benefit has to be applied for “on line” which not everyone has access to. The CAB does have computers people can use, as do the libraries and in Sturminster the Learning Centre at The Exchange. Fortunately Pension Credit has to be applied for by telephone, which actually makes people’s life a lot easier if they are older people unused to modern technology. Having said that, I never cease to be impressed by the IT technical competence of some very much older people using their laptops and iPads.

In my previous blog I mentioned the desire to purchase a paddock on the eastern side of Sturminster Newton which was seen as the key to unlocking the Trailway Route out of town to Stalbridge. That field was bought by a private benefactor, although once the Trailway Route has been secured the rest of the field may well be sold on to a local charity who want to develop it as a space for the public to relax in. It is hoped that continuing the Trailway Route through the town will benefit the shops and cafés, bringing people in from the eastern side. However it will take a while to actually find the funds to build the Trailway route itself. In the first instance we can improve the existing footpaths and signs and use Stalbridge Lane to provide the route to Stalbridge. Walking has tremendous health benefits and I am currently talking to people in the health service about how we can develop a Health, Sports and Leisure Strategy for the Town, of which the Trailway and our excellent footpaths will be a key part.

Surgeries and door knocking in September:
Saturday 1st Sept. 9.30 p.m. door knocking in Glanvilles Wootton; 10.30 a.m. Surgery in Pulham Village Hall; 11.30 a.m. Surgery in The Exchange Coffee Bar, Sturminster Newton
Saturday 8th September Hilton Church Get Together and Mud Pie Café Okeford Fitzpaine

Preferred e.mail address –
Phone – 01258 472583 Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page – Councillor Pauline Batstone
Facebook – Councillor Pauline Batstone


Burns Night at Glanvilles Wootton

In January, before the snow and ice, a hearty crowd of revellers toasted the bard of Scotland and enjoyed an absolutely delicious meal. Tales were told, laughter was heard and very discrete and moderate drinking took place. Louise Dutton and her band of slaves were entirely responsible for the great success of the event. You’d only get sad if you missed next year’s bash …

The evening raised £1,200 for the Sherborne Deanery Rural Chaplaincy project, headed up by the Rev Richard Kirlew.

Music for a Summer’s Evening – Sunday 17th September

The very charismatic violinist, Andrew Bernardi, Sally Clarke’s brother-in-law, very generously offered to come down from West Sussex to play his Stradivarius to help raise much needed funds for our church. The date was set, posters printed, leaflets delivered and adverts placed and what a response we got. The concert was completely sold out with people sitting in every available space. As someone remarked “so lovely to see the church full other than for a funeral or a wedding”! The pieces Andrew played included J.S. Bach movements from the “Sonatas and Partitias for unaccompanied violin”, Sir Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’Amore”, Fritz Krielser’s “Prelude and Allegro” and Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”. Accompanying him quite beautifully on piano was Amanda Slogrove from Sherborne.

Andrew had been quite happy to play for the entire evening but the committee thought that a pure violin concert may be a little too much for some so we search around for a singer/choir. How lucky were we find Amelia Kelly-Slogrove who, at only 15 years old, has a wonderful voice. Her pieces included Henry Purcell’s “If Music be the food of Love”, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. Amelia is currently studying for her GCSEs at The Gryphon School in Sherborne and is planning to audition for the National Youth Choir of Great Britain in November so we wish her all the best for her future music career.

During the interval we were treated to a glass of Prosecco from Waitrose (they did us a good deal!).

We cannot begin to thank Andrew enough for not only performing so brilliantly but for all his advice and support in the lead up to the concert. Finally I would like to thank the committee of Richard Clarke, Pat Harris, Lucy Parrott and Louise Sandy who worked so hard to make this such a success and put up with me being rather bossy!

Village Barbecue

After having been postponed by poor weather, the barbecue at the village hall held on Sunday 23rd July was a great success with many people joining in the fun. Welly throwing, skittles and horse-shoe tossing were just some of the activities taking place. The Sherborne branch of Waitrose very kindly contributed burgers and sausages for the event.