County & District Councillor’s July Report

April, May and June were dominated by the two elections – the County Council election which probably was not noticed by so many people and the General Election which definitely was.   In the meantime, life as a County and District Councillor went on with meetings and casework to deal with, whilst leaflets had to be delivered, social media contributed to and posters put up.   I am grateful to all those who turned out to vote, whether they voted for me or not, because that is what our democratic system depends on.   Those not involved in elections presume the  candidates must be enemies, but in practice in this County election two of my opponents were my friends and the other I have now got to know.   I pledge to continue to work for all those in the County Division of Blackmore Vale regardless of their political allegiance or none.

The General Election delayed any government decision on whether the District and County Councils merge to become a Unitary Authority.  We had expected to hear several months ago whether or not the Secretary of State was minded to support our application to merge and put the necessary legislation before Parliament.   However we now have have to wait until the autumn before we know whether there will be a Unitary Authority, a combined Council of West and North Dorset District Council’s and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, or whether we continue as we are now, i.e. with a County Council completely separate from the Dorset Council’s Partnership.

This uncertainty does make planning, particularly budgeting, very difficult.  What we do know is that we have to continue to pursue economies of scale in order to live within our means, which are diminishing all the while.   In particular the government are withdrawing routine support grants from Councils over the next couple of years but saying that Councils will keep 100% of the business rate.   That sounds very reasonable except that it means the money from business rate, which is set by central government,  continues to be spread over Councils across the country to the most needy areas   We in North Dorset  do not qualify as “most needy”.   We also do not raise a lot of money from business rate and are in what is called “the safety net” which guarantees us a certain level of income but we struggle will to get out of it.  Our particular problem was when the Army at Blandford Camp were classified as an educational institution and no longer paid the full business rate.   Our North Dorset businesses, and there are around 9,000 of them,  tend in the majority, to be small businesses, often one person working from home, so they do not pay business rate.

As a Councillor, from time to time I get dissatisfied residents complaining that they do not get their money’s worth from the Council tax they pay.   In particular the complaint is that we do not get the services in the rural area which people in towns get.  The counter to that is it costs more to deliver services in a rural area and in any case more often the services we pay for are not those we are using at that particular time but may need in future, for example elderly care, or preventative services which operate below our awareness most of the time.  As has been well publicised, the biggest expenditure for the County Council is the growing social care budget.

One example of a difficult service to provide in a rural area is the transport service.   The bus services for Dorset have been subject to the routine three yearly re-tendering of the contracts.   The information about this is available on dorsetforyou and by telephone from County Hall.  There have been changes of providers, but the commitment of the County Council is to ensure the routes between the market towns and services should continue as now.  The one service which appears to have gone in Blackmore Vale is the 307 as from and discussions are taking place about how the needs of residents who use that service can be met in other ways.   The new providers take over on 24th July.

In my June Report I wrote of the intended closure of Lloyds Bank in Sturminster, the last bank to have a permanent base there.   Discussions continue with the intention of Lloyds to provide a mobile bank on three days of the week for an hour or more.   The mobile bank will park in the Library Carpark.  Meanwhile NatWest also provide a mobile service between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m.  Friday in the Station Road car park.  We are also negotiating for the provision of cash machines in the market place to replace the ones lost when the banks closed.  There are classes being run in The Exchange Learning Centre for those who want help to set up and understand on-line banking.

Surgeries in July:

Saturday  1st July  9.30 a.m. –  Glanvilles Wootton Village Hall;  10.30 a.m. Pulham Village Hall;  11.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton.
Saturday,   – 15th July 9.30 a.m. Hazelbury Bryan Village Hall;  10.45  a.m. Okeford Fitzpaine Village Hall

Preferred e.mail address –
Phone 01258 472583
Post – Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2DJ
Twitter @paulinebatstone   Facebook Page Councillor Pauline Batstone



Another successful fête was enjoyed by all who visited Church Farm on Saturday 10th June.  Despite dire weather forecasts of heavy rain and dark skies earlier in the week the sun decided it had other ideas!

Opened by the newly re-appointed Conservative Member of Parliament for North Dorset, Simon Hoare, crowds gathered well before opening time to grab the best bargains at the Bric-à-Brac and the sweetest of cakes on the cake stall!  New for this year was a fun dog show which brought in visitors from further afield.  Eight classes from Prettiest Bitch to Waggiest Tail culminated in hoots of laughter from the audience when canine Musical Mats was fought out to the end!

Visitors enjoyed the delights of the BBQ, Pimms Tent and Tea and Cake whilst listening to the sounds of the Black Down Hills Steel Band.  Other stalls included a Treasure Hunt, Skittles, Coconut shy, Tombola and guess the number of sweets in the jar to name but a few.  A silent auction and raffle kept eager potential winners staying to the bitter end ever hopeful they might be successful.

The Photographic Competition was displayed in the church alongside beautiful flower arrangements to greet visitors.  Photographs will be displayed on the website in due course.

A record turnout and lovely weather contributed to what was a quintessential English country fête.  We would like to thank all those involved behind the scenes and on the day but particularly to our hosts Mr and Mrs Frankcom.

Click on the “Fête” heading to see more pictures from the day.

Annie & Georgina

Flood Alleviation Scheme






Some of you may have noticed groundworks happening on Home Farm this spring.  Before the start of these there were 3 x 300mm pipes going into a chamber and 1 x 300mm pipe going out thus water backed up and flowed down through the village causing flooding at Mead Corner.  A new 500mm pipe has now been laid and the outflow is further down Home Farm’s ditch system.  We must thank Ian Sargent and Jerry Curtis for giving many man hours to the project.  Now we must await the rain to see if this is going to finally resolve the water issues we have in this village!

Did you know?

There are Church Recorders at St Mary’s Glanvilles Wootton.

During the year 2016/2017 at 11a.m, every Thursday morning from April to November a group of people can be found in the porch of the Church having their coffee break!

They are members of the Church Recorder Group affiliated to NADFAS (The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies)  and  are there to undertake a survey recording all the fittings and artistic artefacts that are to be found in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin which is a  Church  with a 14 Century tower, a 19th  Restoration of the main church and with an ancient Chantry Chapel.

The project is fascinating and the amount of information that has been discovered is so interesting.  Everything is described, measured and noted down with drawings and photographs. This includes textiles, metalwork , paintings ,library, windows, stonework, woodwork and memorials.  All this will eventually be put together in a bound book to enable the village now and future generations to discover exactly what is contained in their beautiful Church.

Barn Dance

On Saturday 18th February there were hijinks in the village hall with a very successful Barn Dance.

Our caller for the evening was the splendid Ruth Thompson and music provided by the talented Chris Toyne on squeeze box.

Village Defibrillator

We have a defibrillator!

Someone of you may have notice our defibrillator is now in place by the entrance to the village hall. It is ready for use.

It is accessible in an unlocked, but alarmed, box. The use of the defibrillator is straightforward, it gives verbal instruction and will not function if not being used correctly, thus you cannot harm ‘the patient’. The ambulance 999 service has been made aware of its existence and will direct callers to the defib in appropriate circumstances.

Training is not required but some residents attended a presentation in the village on Monday 30th January to make themselves familiar with the defibrillator and its use. Our thanks go to Dr Tuke who discussed its use and techniques that work alongside it.

Our thanks go to those who have made donations towards the provision of this potentially life saving resource.

Local retired G.P., Dr Tuke recently gave a training session in cardiac resuscitation in the village hall.